Austin police said they uncovered a prostitution ring at a Northwest Austin massage parlor after a waste pipe at the business became clogged and destroyed by hundreds of condoms, according to an arrest affidavit filed Tuesday.
The affidavit said police were tipped off Feb. 7 about possible prostitution from a realty company that had recently taken over a property in the 11400 block of North RM 620. One of the tenants of the property was listed as Jade Massage Therapy LLC.
The affidavit said several other tenants had expressed concerns that prostitution might have been going on at the business, and that an industrial disposal unit connecting the property to the city’s sewer service was found clogged with condoms.
Austin police Human Trafficking and Vice Unit Sgt. Kevin Covington said the clogged disposal system was one of several pieces of evidence that led to the bust.
“I was like, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me,’” he said. “It’s not the normal tip you would get, or lead you would get on a place committing criminal activity, but it happened, so that helped us out.”
Investigators identified the owners of the business as a woman named Juan Wang and her husband, Joseph Emery.
Two days before officers received the tip relating to the clogged pipe, Wang was stopped by security at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport with $30,000 in cash wrapped up in several duct-taped bundles, the document said.
She told police she had saved the money for a medical procedure in China, and that the money came from Jade Massage, the affidavit said.
According to the document, Wang estimated that she made about $20,000 there each year.
“When (an officer) pointed out that she was carrying in excess of a year’s worth of income, Wang became visibly nervous and had difficulty answering further questions,” the affidavit said.
Wang gave police a contact number and was allowed to board a plane to China, the document said.
Investigators found that the number was tied to a Backpage.com account that had apparent advertisements for “Jade Massage” for sexual services at a second location on Anderson Mill Road, according to the affidavit.
On March 22, Austin police executed search warrants at the address and found Wang in a massage room with a naked man, the affidavit said. Another woman was also found in a separate room with a different naked man, according to the report. A search of Wang and Emery’s home turned up about $66,000 in cash in a safe.
Wang, who was interviewed by police through an interpreter, told investigators that she hired her female employees through an unnamed friend. Emery told police that 12 women had worked for them, and Wang said they lived with her and Emery at their home, the affidavit said. Police found ledgers with only the women’s first names or initials and hundreds of credit card receipts from clients — “most would tip between $40 and $120 on top of a standard $60 charge,” the affidavit said.
Both Wang and Emery face charges of engaging in organized criminal activity and money laundering, the affidavit said.
The two haven’t been arrested and weren’t in police custody Tuesday.