173 arrest warrants issued in human trafficking case, with more anticipated

florida

HIGHLIGHTS FROM NEWS CONFERENCE

2:01 p.m.: Currey estimated the investigation “put a heck of a dent in human trafficking and sex trade” in Indian River County.

2 p.m.: “I can’t imagine them looking in a mirror and saying this is what they want to do with their life,” Currey said, adding he would rather have the women who worked in the spas as victims than defendants.

1:58 p.m.: The people who went to the spas for sex included business owners, members of the religious community, fathers, uncles and others, Currey said.

1:52 p.m.: “They’re told from the get-go not to cooperate, Currey said of the victims, adding that translators have been brought in from around the country to make them comfortable, and to feel safe and cooperate.”

1:49 p.m.: “We owe it to our community to see this through.  It takes a lot of time and taxpayer money. We don’t want these people to relocate,” Currey said.

1:45 p.m.: Officials estimated the spas in Vero Beach and Sebastian made $1 million to $1.5 million a year.

1:44 p.m.: “We don’t think they (the victims) were getting much of what they were earning and had to pay rent and for food,” Currey said. The customers were paying anywhere between $60 and $100 a visit, plus tips. Currey added he doubted whether the victims saw much of that money.

1:40 p.m.: Currey’s message to the men who frequented the spas: “I hope their family sees their names. Turn yourself in or someone will be knocking on your door. Shame on the Johns.”

1:37 p.m.: There is no connection to the human trafficking cases that were announced this week in Martin County and Jupiter, Currey said.

1:36 p.m.: There are two confirmed victims in Indian River County and Vero Beach. “I’m sure we’ll uncover more,” Currey said.

1:35 p.m.: Currey estimated about 90 percent of the business were full sex acts. “There was very little massaging going on.”

1:31 p.m.: “Victims are recruited. There’s a lot of advertising going on. They answer ads they think are legitimate,” Currey said.

1:30 p.m.: Two women associated with the spas remain at large, one on the west coast and one out of the country.

1:23 p.m.: “We’ve learned more about what these victims go through … they have nowhere to go,” Currey said. “They’re trying to provide a better life for themselves and their families. There’s shame and intimidation; these people are truly stuck. Many women come from China on temporary visas, paying brokers with bad intentions.”

1:20 p.m.: AA Massage in Sebastian was owned by the same people who owned East Spa in Vero Beach. A Health Department complaint launched an investigation in September. An undercover officer was sent in and offered sex acts. Currency and documents were found during a raid Tuesday.

1:15 p.m.: When the owner of East Sea Spa was arrested, she had $22,000 cash in her purse. That one store could generate $1 million, Loar said. The men paying for prostitution were supporting human trafficking.

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1:14 p.m.: Fifty-four subjects and 61 solicitation charges were identified to be charged in Indian River County in connection with East Sea Spa. The manager was arrested and charged. Staff was living in the spa and not allowed to leave, according to Sheriff Deryl Loar. Many only spoke Chinese.

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