SPRING, Texas - A sting operation at a Spring massage parlor was launched after a number of complaints.
Harris County Precinct 4 investigators say they received reports that customers were going to Foot Relax Spa for more than a massage.
It's located in a shopping plaza at Cypresswood Drive and the North Freeway, where families come and go. So when authorities received reports of sex for sale at the massage parlor, undercover deputies went in posing as customers.
"They were offered sexual acts for money and an adult female was arrested for prostitution," says Precinct 4 Constables Office Asst. Chief Kenneth Key.
Detectives also worked to determine if the arrested employee, Hong Yu, is actually a human trafficking victim.
"We look for indicators as far as human trafficking goes, but ultimately it is going to be the victim that speaks up and says they are a victim of human trafficking," Asst. Chief Key explained. "Unless these victims speak up it’s very hard to make a case."
Asst. Chief Key also says fear often forces trafficking victims into silence.
"They’re afraid of law enforcement sometimes," he said. "They’re afraid of retaliation and harm to themselves or their family by the human traffickers."
Precinct 4 does have a human trafficking unit.
"We have trained professional investigators that have attended multiple hours of human trafficking training and continue to do so," Asst. Chief Key said. "They work with federal agencies, other state, and local law enforcement agencies constantly to improve their skills, share information."
The unit has the tough task of identifying criminals who use seemingly legitimate companies to cover dark, violent crimes.
"A lot of times we think what are the worst criminals in the world? Rapists, murderers, pedophiles, kidnappers, thieves, extortioners," says Asst. Chief Key. "Well, a human trafficker is every one of those things. What do traffickers look like? They’re not necessarily a male. They’re not necessarily a female. They’re not any particular race. They’re nothing. They are just evil people that do evil things to these victims."
Precinct 4 has a host of deputies working to reach those being trafficked and is encouraging victims to call for help.
Assistant Chief Kenneth Key wants to remind you, you don’t have to have proof to report suspected human trafficking. Just as in this case with the Foot Relax Spa, no human trafficking has been discovered but concerns that something wasn’t right did not go ignored.
"We will be there to help you, to rescue you, to get you the services you need, the counseling, the housing, whatever it takes to make you safe," Asst. Chief Key concluded. "We will help you. We are not the enemy."
If you believe you may have information about a trafficking situation call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free hotline at 1-888-373-7888.