WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal prosecutors on Wednesday charged three people in a wide-ranging sex trafficking scheme operating at nine Asian massage parlors in Wichita, alleging they recruited women from outside Kansas and coerced them to engage in prostitution.
A criminal complaint filed Wednesday in federal court charges owner Gary H. Kidgell, 44, of Waltham, Mass.; Yan Zhang, 49, of Wichita; and employee Xiuqing Tian, 42, of Framingham, Mass., with a conspiracy that allegedly started in June 2009 and lasted until August 2011.
Court records do not indicate any defense attorneys for the defendants, and the U.S. attorney's office did not know if any have been retained.
The six-count complaint lists four women, identified only by their initials, who were allegedly forced to engage in prostitution.
Authorities began investigating the massage parlors in 2010 after Wichita police detectives found Internet postings about sexual services available in Wichita. In September 2010, officials sent in undercover officers to the massage parlors. The officers paid for massages, but were offered, and declined, sex acts for an added price, according to the affidavit.
During a 2010 search of the massage parlors, officers found a notebook containing translations for sexually explicit phrases. Also found during the raid was copy for ads in a Chinese-language newspaper in New York, Chicago and San Francisco offering "massage parlor hiring" in Kansas.
Court documents indicate the defendants worked together and shared resources to operate nine massage parlors in Wichita: AG Spa, Sun Chi Spa, Dragon Spa, Eastern Massage, Oriental Massage, Phoenix Spa, Sunflower Massage, Massage 600, and Ocean Spa.