LIVERMORE, Calif. - A massage parlor owner and her boyfriend are behind bars accused of running a sex trafficking operation. Police said the illicit activity happened at five massage businesses in Livermore, Tracy and Brentwood.
Police said 50-year-old Anna Huang and her boyfriend 50-year-old Brian Jones, both from Livermore, promised women from China, ranging in age from 20 to 45, the American dream. Instead, they lived a life of horror. Police estimate 25 women were victimized, five at each location.
“The sad thing is when they get here what happens is that they are essentially held hostage and forced into prostitution,” said Officer Taylor Burruss of Livermore Police. “They are told they owe a debt and they need to work that debt off.”
Police said their investigation started a year ago when community members suspected prostitution at Elite Foot and Back on South Vasco Road.
“When they first moved in, we were suspicious right away,” said Dr. Melissa Mathews who owns Altamont Cat Hospital.
Dr. Mathews said she never saw a woman enter the business only men. She also said the women who worked there lived at the parlor and suspects they slept in the ceiling.
“They would come out in the morning with curlers in their hair and bathrobes,” said Dr. Mathews. “They put an ATM machine in the lobby. Do you need to have an ATM machine for a $39 massage?”
Police received similar complaints at the Paradise City Foot and Back on Wright Brothers Avenue. Police learned Huang also owned two massage parlors in Tracy and one in Brentwood.
After several undercover operations and surveillance, police executed search warrants at the five businesses and a home on Wednesday.
“I suspected nothing,” said Neighbor Maria Lalor.
Police arrested the couple at their home on Dry Creek Court. Neighbors said Jones often bragged he had a lot of money and are in disbelief.
“They came in and bragged they were going to buy the house with all cash,” said Neighbor Kevin Lalor.
“It’s crazy, it's absolutely crazy in our little town of Livermore,” said Neighbor Maria Lalor.
The couple now faces charges that include human trafficking for the purposes of pimping, money laundering and tax evasion. Police are now offering the victims housing and counseling.
“People who fraternize these places need to take a good look at what they are getting for their money because the women suffer,” said Dr. Mathews.
Police said Huang was arrested and convicted of running a sex trafficking operation in San Gabriel in Los Angeles County back in 2008. Police call their investigation the tip of the iceberg and suspect there may be more victims.