BOSTON (CBS) – A Medford woman and a Woburn man have been arrested on charges of running a human trafficking ring, state Attorney General Martha Coakley announced Monday.
The operation spanned several communities, including Bedford, Billerica, Medford, Reading, Wilmington and Woburn, according to a prepared statement from the AG.
Xiu Chen, 32, of Medford, and Ronald Keplin, 57, of Woburn, were arrested Monday by state police assigned to the AG’s office and agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, with assistance from local police departments. Chen was arrested in Reading and Keplin was arrested in Woburn.
Chen and Keplin are charged with trafficking of persons for sexual servitude (one count each), deriving support from prostitution (six counts each) and keeping a house of ill fame (six counts each).
Chen and Keplin face arraignment Tuesday morning in Somerville District Court.
“We allege that these individuals ran an extensive local human trafficking organization through what outwardly appeared to be legitimate businesses in multiple communities,” Coakley said. “The trafficking of women is often insidious and out of public view, but it is happening right in our own communities.”
Chen and Keplin allegedly ran six businesses that were portrayed as massage parlors but were really fronts for human trafficking. The businesses are: Bedford Asian Bodywork, also known as Bedford Wellness Center, in Bedford; Shrine Spa, also known as Billerica Bodywork and Boston Chinese Club, in Billerica; Mystic Health Center in Medford; Body Wellness Center in Reading; Body Language in Wilmington; and Asian Bodywork, also known as Woburn Wellness Bodywork, in Woburn.
Through the businesses, Chen and Keplin allegedly offered sexual activity between women they employed and clients in exchange for a fee, according to the AG.
Authorities allege Chen and Keplin recruited women from across the eastern seaboard, including using websites known for prostitution activity. They also allegedly arranged overcrowded housing for the women, the AG said.