A Queens couple was arrested for allegedly coercing two women into performing sex acts on men at two massage parlors that the couple owned in West Hempstead and Franklin Square, Nassau County prosecutors said.
Zhaowei Yin, 49, and his 46-year-old wife, Shuwen Ai, both of Flushing, were charged Thursday with sex trafficking, promoting prostitution, labor trafficking and unauthorized practice.
“Trafficked individuals like the women in this case are the victims of a modern-day form of slavery happening all around us in communities across the country,” Acting Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said. “This is what slavery looks like in 2015.”
Prosecutors said that the couple allegedly hired two women responding to ads in Chinese-language newspapers seeking masseuses, but required them to perform sexual services on men at Lucy’s Spa on Hempstead Turnpike and Panda Foot Spa on Franklin Avenue between May 2013 and the end of January 2014.
The suspects allegedly forced the women to sleep at the businesses, which are now closed. They allegedly never paid one victim and authorities said the couple deducted wages from the other for trasnporation to and from work. If they refused to comply with their demands, they also allegedly threatened to post nude photos of them in the Internet and have them deported.
The case unfolded after both victims were arrested for prostitution. Once it became clear that they were trafficking victims, their charges were dismissed.
The suspects are believed to have owned other massage parlors across Long Island and in Queens, including a spa that is still in business in Nassau County.
Judge Philip Grella set bail for the couple at $250,000 cash or bond. They face up to 25 years in prison, if convicted. They are due back in court Oct. 15.
A third suspect is expected to be arraigned at a later date. The investigation is continuing.