Feds Seize Cars, House & $300,000 In CashBy Jack Fink

PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – A federal grand jury in Plano has indicted 11 residents in Dallas and Plano in a vast prostitution conspiracy, not only in North Texas, but in five other states as well.

According to the seven-count indictment, the owners of nine massage parlors in Dallas, Plano and Hurst — referred to as “brothels” — transported prostitutes from California, Nevada and Georgia to and from the Dallas area to have sex with their customers. Prosecutors said that the prostitutes would have to pay for one segment of their flights.

In addition, one of the owners, identified as Quyen Thuc Ha (also known as Tony Ha) is accused of paying two Plano police detectives $300,000 in bribes, with the belief that they would protect his North Texas spas from police and instead direct detectives to their competitors businesses. But what Ha didn’t realize is that the detectives were working undercover with federal authorities who took the cash payments.

If convicted on the bribery charges, Ha faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Court papers said that the owners of the spas also used rented apartments and houses not only in Dallas, Addison and The Colony, but also in St. Louis and Oklahoma City for prostitution. Prosecutors allege many of the prostitutes are from China, but say there’s no evidence yet they were brought to the U.S. illegally for the purpose of sex trafficking. The documents also say the spa owners would regularly purchase large shipments of condoms for the prostitutes. Agents from the FBI and Homeland Security, along with police officers from the Dallas and Plano, said that the alleged criminal enterprise began in January 2010.

Now, prosecutors have seized $305,000 in cash, nine cars — including Lexus, BMW and Mercedes models — and a Plano home where the alleged ringleaders lived.

Yutao Chen (credit: Dallas County Sheriff's Office)

Yutao Chen (credit: Dallas County Sheriff’s Office)

Some of the 11 defendants have already appeared in court. If convicted on charges of using an interstate facility (internet, cell phones) to promote unlawful activity, they each face a maximum penalty of at least five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Federal agents, along with police officers in Dallas and Plano, began raiding nine spas and homes on Monday. At the Plano home, Child Protective Services removed three children including a 6-month-old boy, a 5-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl. Authorities said there’s no evidence any children were used in the scheme.

The raids were not something that Plano residents expected to see on their street. They took photos as authorities raided one home. Leslie Campos said that she also watched as authorities arrested a couple and removed computers and other items from the house and a truck. “They had a bunch of boxes bringing stuff out, stuff in bags, laying it all out,” Campos said. “It went on from 9 o’clock until 5 o’clock.”

Federal prosecutors will hold a news conference about the alleged conspiracy at the Plano Police Department on Wednesday afternoon.

Panghsiang Lin (credit: Dallas County Sheriff's Office)

Panghsiang Lin (credit: Dallas County Sheriff’s Office)

Court documents said that undercover police officers set up dates online and were directed to one of the rental houses in Dallas, where they set up a “pole” camera. CBS 11 News found the door at that home, located in the 13000 block of Kit Lane, slightly opened on Tuesday evening, but no one came to the door.

Mohammed Akim is a neighbor to one of the north Dallas spas — the J.J. Health Care Center in the 5500 block of Alpha Road. “I’ve probably seen 20 cars a day, 30 cars a day, most of which are fancy cars — Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Corvettes surprisingly,” he said. “They pull up, go in there for an hour.”

Laura Rossell works next door to the Rosemeade Spa in far north Dallas and said, “Men, they park far away, walk through the door.” When asked about the kinds of cars she had seen, Rossell said, “Mercedes, BMWs… good kind of cars.”

Chin Yeh (credit: Dallas County Sheriff's Office)

Chin Yeh (credit: Dallas County Sheriff’s Office)

Two of those who have been arrested — 52-year-old Yutao Chen and 51-year-old Panghsiang Lin — were taken into custody on Monday at the J.J. Health Care Center. They are facing organized crime and prostitution charges. They allegedly told police where to find 57-year-old Chin Yeh, who was arrested at the Dallas home. She is also being held on organized crime and prostitution charges. Those three women are not among those 11 who have been indicted.

Back in Plano, Campos said, “I’m freaked out right now. I have three kids and they have friends down the street.”

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