Month-long investigation culminates in prostitution ring arrests

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, July 1, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE — Locked doors, closed blinds and curtained windows met any potential customers of 7 Star Foot Massage this week.

The storefront, located at 3025 U.S. 51 Suite B, was the site of four arrests Thursday, including that of a juvenile, where authorities say the group was using the LaPlace massage parlor as a front for a prostitution ring.

St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre said a month-long investigation culminated last week after several residents’ tips led authorities to coordinate an undercover investigation of the parlor.

“We appreciate all of the assistance from residents,” Tregre said. “No one wants that in their community.”

District V Councilman Michael Wright, whose area of representation includes U.S. 51, said “Operation Happy Feet” is a clear example of the need for communication between residents and their local government.

“It’s truly unfortunate that not only this type of activity was going on, but also that a minor was involved,” he said. “Great job to all those involved in this investigation, including the residents.”

Tregre said the investigation and last week’s arrests were an important step to keeping the parish safe from crimes that often coincide with prostitution, including drugs and human trafficking.

He said while some people called prostitution a “victimless” crime, he will not tolerate the illegal activity in the parish.

“I’m not going to ignore it,” Tregre said. “If I find another one, I’ll shut it down too.”

Detectives said more than foot massages were being given by massage therapists at 7 Star Foot Massage.

Tregre said during the investigation, massage therapists negotiated with undercover detectives to perform a sexual favor for additional money above the massage rates published in the lobby of the storefront. He said the undercover investigators in the case frequented the establishment many times before they were offered any sexual services, saying the women were savvy enough not to offer any additional service to a brand new customer.

Feng Qin Yu, 35, of David Drive in Metairie, was arrested and booked with soliciting for prostitutes, promoting prostitution, crimes against nature and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile. Her bond was set at $51,500.

Xiao Zhen Liu, 40, of David Drive in Metairie, and Junzhi Wang, 55, of Cerro Sur, Richmond, Calif., were each arrested and booked with soliciting for prostitutes, crimes against nature and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile. Each woman’s bond was set at $11,500.

A 15-year-old juvenile, also of Metairie, was arrested and booked with inciting prostitution. She was released on a personal surety bond.

Tregre said the three women all bonded out of jail, paying the nearly $75,000 in cash.

An employee of a neighboring business who asked to not be identified said she has been concerned about the massage business, which was often open later than its posted 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. operating hours.

St. John Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Dane Clement said the juvenile arrested was tasked with manning the front desk and setting up the sexual favors, not actually performing them.

He said authorities will continue to monitor the establishment and respond to any future complaints. He said he does not expect any cases to be brought against any of the men who frequented the establishment. 

“For us to be able to prosecute the men, the arrested women would have to cooperate,” Clement said.
Tregre said all collected evidence and information on the sting was provided to the Louisiana State Police so they could investigate whether the LaPlace parlor was operating in connection with any other massage establishments in the state.