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DURHAM, NC (WNCN) – A two-year investigation into human trafficking and prostitution has forced the closure of a massage spa in Durham.

MPs arrested Lian Jin Xu, the operator of the Neon Moon Spa on South Miami Boulevard, on charges of promoting prostitution, conspiracy and prosecution of the criminal enterprise. The detectives also obtained arrest warrants for Quan Chun Li and Kwang Koo. Durham Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman AnnMarie Breen said additional arrests were underway.

The investigation began in January 2017 after MPs received complaints about possible human trafficking at another spa on South Miami Boulevard. Investigators served a search warrant there in July 2018, and one client said that although there had never been sexual services there, he had heard that Neon Moon staff “offered everything they could. you wanted from $ 60 ”.

County Durham detectives began monitoring Neon Moon the next day. Records kept by the North Carolina Secretary of State indicate Quan Chun Li as the owner. Law enforcement databases describe Li as “a well-known Chinese mafia associate who trafficked women from New York.” A County Durham search warrant cites a history of indictments for Li that includes running an ongoing criminal enterprise for narcotics and human trafficking.

Breen said MPs watched Neon Moon on nearly a dozen different occasions, and the investigation included interviews with clients and undercover operations. North Carolina has Massage Board investigators. The search warrants reveal that on separate visits, two of the investigators were each individually proposed by women at the massage parlor who groped the men’s genitals. Reports from officers say undercover investigators made excuses to leave “and demanded the price of the supplement knowing it would end the session.”

None of the women who worked as masseuses at Neon Moon have been arrested or charged in this case. Breen said they are seen as victims and the sheriff’s office tries to help them rather than criminalize them.

The search warrants said: “It is more than certain that the workers have to live in the company overnight, as we witnessed cooking inside the back door early in the morning, while not seeing anyone. enter the business and no car was present. “

The owner changed the locks last week after Lian Jin Xu was arrested. MPs arrested Xu at her home on April 11, and she remains in the County Durham Detention Center on $ 250,000 guaranteed bond. She has no bond for the other felony charges and human trafficking charges are pending.

One of the investigators in this case attended the 2019 North Carolina Human Trafficking Education Seminar on Tuesday and Wednesday, hosted by the Orange County Sheriff and in conjunction with the Enforcement Unit Against Human Trafficking from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.

Carl Wall is the SBI’s special agent in charge of the program, which received a designation from the North Carolina General Assembly in 2017.

“We are trying to put in place a unit to fight human trafficking across the state and let local chiefs and sheriffs know that we are here as a resource to fight it,” Wall said.

“A lot of people think it takes a large population to be a victim of human trafficking, but that’s not the case. It’s in all aspects of North Carolina. I’ve been around the state, speaking with many chiefs and sheriffs who don’t realize exactly what it is or where it is, but it’s here.

Speakers included the executive director of the North Carolina Anti-Trafficking Commission, an investigator from the State Attorney’s Office, a special agent from the Organized Crime Squad of the Department of Enforcement. Florida laws and certain non-governmental organizations.

Over 100 people, most of whom work in law enforcement, attended the workshop. It included the screening of the documentary 8 Days and conversations with director Jaco Booyens. He works with anti-trafficking organizations across the country.

“It’s very difficult to detect. It’s not like drugs where you can train a dog to sniff and find it. It’s human behavior, ”said Booyens. “It’s a tough fight, but it’s a fight where we can make huge strides.”

He said workshops like the trafficking education seminar are essential for law enforcement. While officers learn about prostitution at the police academy, Booyens said there is a difference between prostitution and sex trafficking.

The owner of a business in the same mall as Neon Moon, who asked not to be identified, said he noticed that there were never any clients in the massage parlor. He said people also come at all hours of the day and into the late evening. A Google listing of the spa says it’s open until 10 p.m. Another nearby employee said he thought the women could have spent the night at the Neon Moon.

Anti-trafficking advocates have said these are signs that should raise suspicion and should be reported.

“If there is smoke, there is fire, so report if you see anything like this.” If it’s infamous or irregular behavior, lots of traffic, or just men showing up and not women, or you think someone can live there, that’s the kind of situation where we ask the public to have your radar in place, ”said Booyens.

“Self-monitoring to a point. Law enforcement will tell you that they would rather you report and get it wrong than not report. Unfortunately, it goes unreported and many lives are suffering, as you saw in Jupiter, ”he said with reference to the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Florida.

A February raid of this massage parlor gained national attention. One of the clients charged in this case is Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots of the National Football League.

Special Agent Wall said the Neon Moon Spa case was very similar, the only difference being the high profile of those named in the investigation in Florida.

The County of Durham Sheriff’s Office said its investigations into illegal sexual activity in massage parlors are ongoing. Anyone with information on this matter or suspecting similar activity should call Durham Crimestoppers at 919-683-1200 or Durham County Sheriff’s Office Investigations at 919-560-7151. Tips can also be submitted online to the email address [email protected]

“It’s so much easier to approach something than someone saying, ‘Yeah, that looked suspicious last year,’ and now we’re a year later, ‘Booyens said.

“Maybe some of the people they were looking for have moved. They will turn. They’re gonna spin these girls.

The Neon Moon Spa was located in the same mall as the District 4 Substation of the Durham Police Department. Officers on-site joined the investigation once it began, and the Fire Marshal of the Durham Fire Department also participated in an inspection involving a dwelling violation that is contrary to the Prevention Code. fires.

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