Five people were charged after search warrants were executed at three Christiansburg massage parlors as the result of a three-month investigation into complaints of “illicit sexual activity,” according to the town.
The warrants were served on Wednesday and the investigation included citizen complaints, according to a town news release.
In response to these complaints, the Christiansburg Police Department’s Vice Unit conducted undercover operations, where undercover officers purchased massage services as advertised by the businesses. In each establishment, during the legitimate massage, the officers, without suggestion or solicitation, were offered sexual services in exchange for an additional fee, according to the release.
The undercover officers always declined these acts, and no officers engaged in sexual activity with the employees of these businesses, according to the release. The investigation consisted of multiple visits to each location to ensure that the offer of sexual acts for money represented a regular business practice and was not an isolated act of an individual employee.
The business licenses of three businesses– the Sunshine Spa (3225 North Franklin St.), the Spring Spa (2115 Roanoke St.) and the Oasis Day Spa (2150 Roanoke St.) – have all been suspended as a result of the investigation, according to the release.
These businesses are no longer allowed to operate in Christiansburg, the release states.
The following individuals were charged with the listed misdemeanor crimes, according to the release: Qilin Cai, 47, of Vinton, one count of operating a bawdy place in violation; Youmei Yang, 43, of Christiansburg, one count of sexual battery, one count of prostitution, one count of operating a bawdy place; Hongling Zheng, 54, of Christiansburg, one count of sexual battery, one count of prostitution, one count of operating a bawdy place; Yumin Tang, 56, of Christiansburg, one count of residing at a bawdy place; Xeuming Sun, 57, of Christiansburg, one count of operating a bawdy place, one count of operating a massage parlor with no massage therapy license.
In addition to the Christiansburg Police Department, assisting in the investigation were the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, the Radford Police Department and the United States Department of Homeland Security, according to the release.
The investigation remains active “as our detectives continue to investigate the evidence recovered to determine if there is any connection to sex trafficking or other businesses in the area,” according to the release.
“The Christiansburg Police Department recognizes that while activity like this is at times thought of as a ‘victimless crime’ that is far from the truth. These businesses are often linked to sex trafficking and their continued operation facilitates the victimization of many vulnerable members of society, often including those who seek to immigrate to this country in search of a better life but instead find themselves forced into a life of sexual servitude. For those reasons, we are committed to thoroughly investigating and working with our Commonwealth’s Attorney to prosecute crimes of this nature,” said Christiansburg Assistant Police Chief, Maj. Chris Ramsey, in the release.
The Christiansburg Town Council in 2019 unanimously passed a pair of ordinances members said will aim to combat the issue of massage and spa businesses that secretly — and illegally — operate as part of prostitution rings.