Sisters Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison Following Human Trafficking Investigation
October 16, 2015
Ohio) -- Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Delaware County Prosecutor Carol
O'Brien, and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien announced today that the
owners of several Central Ohio massage parlors have been sentenced to prison
following their convictions on multiple charges, including engaging in a
pattern of corrupt activity with a human trafficking specification.
Today, visiting Delaware County Common Pleas Judge J.
Timothy Campbell sentenced Estella Xu, 55, and her sister, Qing Xu, 58, to each
serve 10 years in prison after they were found guilty of compelling employees
at their three area massage parlors to engage in sexual activity fo for hire.
The defendants were also both classified as Tier I sex offenders.
In August, a Delaware County jury found the sisters guilty of one
count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity with a human trafficking
specification and eight counts of promoting prostitution with human trafficking
specifications. A jury also found the defendants guilty of three counts
of money laundering and three counts of practicing medicine without a license.
The case was prosecuted jointly by prosecutors with the Delaware
County Prosecutor's Office and Franklin County Prosecutor's Office and was
investigated by authorities working as part of the Central Ohio Human
Trafficking Task Force, which is part of the Ohio Attorney General's Ohio
Organized Crime Investigations Commission.
Members of the task force began investigating suspicious activity
at the Amsun Massage businesses in Powell and Worthington and at Rainbow
Massage in Columbus after tips from the community indicated that customers were
purchasing sex at the massage parlors and some workers appeared to be living at
the locations. Investigators executed search warrants at the three businesses
and the sisters' Columbus apartment in January.
The investigation found that the sisters recruited women from
outside the state who were native to China, could not speak English, and had no
ties to Central Ohio. The defendants led the women to believe that they
would be working legitimate massage parlor jobs, but instead forced them to
engage in sexual conduct with customers.
"The victims in this case had no
choice but to do as they were told because they couldn't speak English, they
had no access to transportation, and therefore, they had no way out," said
Attorney General DeWine. "We will not tolerate human trafficking in
Ohio, and law enforcement will continue to aggressively investigate and
prosecute those who force others into involuntary servitude."
“This is a groundbreaking case,” said
Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien. “Together we are changing the way
society identifies a victim and evolving to prosecute the real criminals, those
behind what is essentially modern day slavery."
"This case again illustrates that,
by joining forces together, local prosecutors, the human trafficking task force
and the attorney general’s office can effectively battle this terrible
scourge, ” said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien.
The Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task
Force is comprised of authorities with the Columbus Police Department, Ohio
Bureau of Criminal Investigation, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, Powell
Police Department, Delaware County Sheriff's Office, Ohio State Highway Patrol,
State Medical Board of Ohio, Delaware County Prosecutor's Office, Franklin
County Prosecutor's Office, and Franklin County Sheriff's Office.
Authorities with the Worthington Police
Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation assisted with the investigation.
The Salvation Army of Central Ohio assisted the victims with their basic
needs, provided case management, and linked them with medical care, legal
assistance, and housing assistance. Asian American Community Services
also assisted through interpretation and cultural support for the victims.
in 1986, the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission assists local law
enforcement agencies in combating organized crime and corrupt activities.
The commission is comprised of members of the law enforcement community
and is chaired by the Ohio Attorney General. In 2014, authorities
working in OOCIC task forces across the state seized more than $23 million
worth of drugs and more than $5 million in U.S. currency.
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