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Sunderland couple arrested for alleged human trafficking and sexual servitude

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Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

As part of a multistate investigation, a married couple living in Sunderland, their daughter living in New York and a fourth woman living in West Springfield were arrested on Tuesday Dec. 13 on charges of human trafficking for sexual servitude.

According to a press release from Attorney General Maura Healey’s office, “the charges are the result of a months-long joint investigation by the AG’s Office, the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, and the Northampton Police Department, with the assistance of various other local and federal law enforcement agencies, including agencies in New York.”

The Northampton Police Department began the investigation into the human trafficking ring in March of 2016.

Ten victims were identified by authorities during the investigation, who were allegedly transported from New York to serve as sex workers in massage parlors across western Massachusetts, according to the release. The parlors were located in Massachusetts in towns including Northampton, Hadley, Framingham, East Longmeadow and Agawam.

Feng Ling Liu, age 50, and her husband Jian Song, age 48, were arraigned in Eastern Hampshire District Court Thursday morning, both pleading not guilty. The charges against their daughter, Ting Ting Yin, age 26, will be handled by a New York Court.

The fourth alleged trafficker, Shuzi Li, age 52, was scheduled to be arraigned in Northampton District Court on Wednesday.

“We are proud of the investigation by the Northwestern District Anti-Crime Task Force in helping dismantle these two human trafficking operations,” said Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan in the press release.

According to the press release, authorities allege that Liu, with help from Song, used Hadley Massage Therapy, Feng Health Center in East Longmeadow and Massage Body Work in Framingham as fronts for their human trafficking ring. Authorities also allege that Yin helped to coordinate the transport of women to Massachusetts from New Hyde Park, N.Y.

“According to investigators, Liu, with help from Song, managed the financial and day-to-day aspects of the operations including recruiting women, advertising sexual services online, setting up appointments for sexual encounters, and transporting women. Liu and Song allegedly received the majority of the profits from these sexual encounters. Liu arranged for most of the women to stay in the same buildings where they were trafficked,” stated the release.

As the investigation into Liu’s operation was underway, authorities allegedly discovered evidence that Li was running a separate but similar operation between Flushing, Queens and her businesses, Pine Spa NoHo in Northampton and Agawam Massage Therapy in Agawam.

“Like Liu, Li allegedly recruited women, advertised sexual services online, set up appointments for sexual encounters, and arranged for transportation for the women. The women allegedly stayed in the same rooms where Li arranged for them to provide sexual services to buyers for a fee. Authorities allege that Li typically received the majority of the profits from these sexual encounters,” stated the release. “The sexual exploitation and servitude of the victims in these operations is deplorable. We are grateful for the resources and expertise of Attorney General Healey’s Human Trafficking Division in this investigation. This major investigation could not have been accomplished without the special commitment made by the Northampton Police Department under the command of Chief Jody Kasper and the case agent Detective Peter Fappiano,” said Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan in the release.

“We were glad all that hard work was paid off and [the arrests] went smoothly,” said Kasper. “I can’t think of the last time we had a case like this.”

According to the release, Healey’s Victim Services Division is working with victim service organizations to ensure victims have the assistance and services they need.

“Human trafficking is happening right here in our own communities across the state,” said Healey in the release. “It is an egregious crime that victimizes vulnerable people, while traffickers profit. This is about the exploitation of human beings and my office will continue to prosecute these cases to hold traffickers and sex buyers accountable. We thank all of our law enforcement partners who assisted us in this major operation.”

More updates will be added to this article as they become available.

Stefan Geller can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @StefanGeller.

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