7 indicted in human trafficking ring involving Denver massage parlors

Southwest

DENVER (NewsNation) — A grand jury has indicted seven people and 12 business on 33 felony counts on Thursday resulting from a year-long investigation deemed by authorities as “Bad Apple.”

The suspects are accused of trafficking women from China to engage in sexual acts with customers at the massage parlors, Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said at a news conference.

At the core of the indictment is an alleged international human trafficking operation involving illicit massage parlors, illegal marijuana grow operations and violations of Colorado’s Organized Crime Control Act, said the district attorney’s office.

In early 2019, the Denver District Attorney’s Office was contacted by the Manager of Tax and Licensing with the City of Aurora and informed that illicit massage parlors that had been shut down in Aurora had possibly reopened in Denver.

Based on that report, the Denver Police Department and Denver District Attorney’s Office began a year-long investigation resulting in the indictment which involves:

  • Denver Apple Spa
  • Tulip Spa
  • 21 Spa
  • Mojo Massage
  • Ocean Foot Massage
  • Other entities

Individuals indicted are:

  • Mr. Chen Liang Kuo, 45
  • Ms. Yi Ting Mo, 42
  • Mr. Manqui Xu, 57
  • Mr. Le Zhang, 46
  • Ms. Ying Guo, 49
  • Ms. Xiong Xie, 54
  • Ms. Xuelin Chen, 33

According to the indictment unsealed Thursday morning, the defendants are accused of engaging in a pattern of racketeering in which the massage parlors were the center for running a complex pimping, prostitution, money laundering and tax evasion operation that generated millions of dollars.

“We believe that the defendants were hiding in plain sight as they trafficked women from China to engage in sex acts with customers of their massage businesses,” said Denver District Attorney Beth McCann. “The excellent collaboration between our local, state and federal law enforcement agencies has led to the closure of these businesses and to the dismantling of an international human trafficking operation.”

The indictment documents show business records, real estate records, banking records, utility records, and transportation records that demonstrate the association between the defendants and businesses.

Throughout the course of this investigation, the Denver Police Department and Denver District Attorney’s Office developed evidence to show that the enterprise and its members allegedly profited from these criminal acts and used those profits as untaxed income.

“This illicit massage parlor network, coupled with several illegal marijuana grow houses, were operating in plain sight under the guise of legitimate business operations,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. 

“The criminal enterprise extended across the Front Range and profited off of the exploitation of vulnerable people. From our investigation, we also tracked criminal proceeds through a network of bank accounts to support the money laundering charges in the indictment. Furthermore, illegally operated grow houses diverted revenue from the state. We will continue to work hard to eradicate these illegal operations from Colorado,” said Weiser.

“I am incredibly proud of the investigators and multi-agency collaboration that resulted in these arrests,” said Denver Chief of Police Paul Pazen. “These indictments reflect our community’s commitment to ending the appalling crime of human trafficking, holding alleged offenders accountable, and removing victims from these terrible situations.”

The alleged trafficking occurred in the City and County of Denver, Douglas County, Arapahoe County, Routt County, and Jefferson County, and also reached outside of Colorado into Oklahoma, California and Louisiana, according to authorities.

“Human trafficking is a crime that has horrific consequences for people that far too often come from vulnerable populations,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn. “As this investigation demonstrates, law enforcement in Colorado works well together to hold traffickers accountable. Thanks to the hard work of the Denver Police Department, the Denver District Attorney’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, and other law enforcement agencies, all but two of these traffickers have been arrested and this criminal enterprise has been put to a stop.”

Jason Dunn, U.S. ATTORNEY

NewsNation affiliate KDVR contributed to this report.

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