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Hundreds arrested in South Florida, Treasure Coast massage parlor bust

Human trafficking victims appeared to be living at spas, detectives say

JUPITER, Fla. – Hundreds of people have been arrested in South Florida and the Treasure Coast in connection with a massive human trafficking and prostitution sting related to massage parlors, authorities confirmed.

According to WPTV, about 200 people face charges of soliciting prostitution in Indian River County alone.

The news outlet reported that men arrested in the case in Martin County range from car salesmen to business owners, servers, a plumber and some retirees. 

About 100 people are expected to be charged in Martin County in connection with the investigation.

WPBF reported that the investigation started last July after the health department notified local law enforcement agencies about poor working conditions at the businesses.

Five massage parlors were raided Tuesday in Jupiter and Hobe Sound as part of the investigation.
Authorities confirmed two people, Ruimei Li, 49, of Jupiter, and Lixia Zhu, 49, of Stuart, were arrested Tuesday in Martin County. 

Another woman, Hua Zhang, 58, who owns one of the spas, was arrested in Palm Beach County. She is accused of soliciting, enticing and procuring other women to commit prostitution.

Authorities said they have seized more than $3 million in assets, including cash, cars and rental properties.

Investigators have identified at least six Chinese women who they believe were forced to engage in "graphic sexual acts." Authorities said some of the women appeared to be living at the spas and sleeping on the massage tables.

Some of the men who solicited prostitutes at the spas were prominent members of the community, according to authorities. 

About the Author:

Amanda Batchelor is the managing editor for Local10.com.