2 Arrested in Multi-state Prostitution and Money Laundering Scheme

The owners and operators of a string of massage parlors in Washington and California are in custody after agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local law enforcement officers executed federal criminal search warrants at the establishments as part of an investigation into a prostitution and money laundering scheme.  Tham Nguyen, 48, and Suong Tran, 51, both of Burien, Wash., were arrested Thursday.  They face charges of conspiracy to transport individuals in furtherance of prostitution and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.  A federal grand jury handed down a two-count indictment against them Wednesday, April 21.

The owners and operators of a string of massage parlors in Washington and California are in custody after agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local law enforcement officers executed federal criminal search warrants at the establishments as part of an investigation into a prostitution and money laundering scheme.

 

Tham Nguyen, 48, and Suong Tran, 51, both of Burien, Wash., were arrested Thursday.  They face charges of conspiracy to transport individuals in furtherance of prostitution and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.  A federal grand jury handed down a two-count indictment against them Wednesday, April 21.

 

According to court documents, the defendants owned and operated three massage parlors in Washington, three similar businesses in California and a legal brothel in Nevada.  The alleged massage parlors were, in fact, fronts for prostitution. 

 

Investigators learned that beginning in 2007, the defendants recruited women from out-of-state to work as prostitutes and arranged for the women to be moved among their businesses, generating substantial profits.  Financial records from the businesses also reveal the defendants conspired to conceal the source and proceeds from the illegal activity. 

 

“Addressing the exploitation of women, particularly in this manner, remains a high priority for ICE,” said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE’s Office of Investigations in Seattle.  “We stand shoulder to shoulder with our law enforcement partners to aggressively investigate and deter this type of illegal activity.”

 

“This is a great example of law enforcement at several levels working together to combat a significant problem that plagues communities and crosses state lines,” said King County Sheriff Sue Rahr.  “The Sheriff’s Office is very pleased to be a member of this partnership.”

 

The names and locations of the businesses are:

Bamboo Sauna – 14021 Ambaum Blvd. S.W., Burien

Fantasy Health Spa – 11516 124th Avenue N.E., Kirkland, Wash.

Sauna Relax Station – 1537B Auburn Way North, Auburn, Wash.

AAH Spa – 20 North Cherokee Lane, Lodi


Valley Spa – 321 North California Street, Lodi

Healthy Living Nails and Spa – 3715 47th Avenue, Sacramento, Calif.

#1 Geisha – 357 Douglas Street in Elko, Nev.

 

The government is seeking criminal forfeiture of any property or proceeds gained from the illegal activity.  This case is being prosecuted in the Western District of Washington. 

 

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

ICE was joined in this investigation by sheriff’s departments in King County, Wash., and Sacramento County, Calif.; as well as U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the police departments in Seattle; Auburn, Wash.; Burien, Wash.; Kirkland, Wash.; Lodi, Calif.; and Elko, Nev.

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