TOWSON, Md. - This sign outside 1404 East Joppa Road used to read ‘Jade Heart Health,’ but neighbors knew this business didn't specialize in matters of the heart.
"I would see six or eight cars at night pull up and women would answer the door with lingerie on, it was kind of obvious what was going on."
Ben Palmer had a good view living directly across the street, figuring at some point it would get shut down.
That day would come earlier this month when Baltimore County Police arrested Di Zhang on charges of prostitution and human trafficking.
Zhang would make bail on these charges but then the feds got involved filing a civil complaint, arguing criminal activity and seizing not just the East Joppa Road property, but five others she owned.
The evidence of previous raids can be seen on the front door.
"I was here when they pulled all the massage tables out. They might have took about 15 or so massage tables out of here. There was a group of pick-up trucks in the front that, you know, different pick-up trucks. They loaded up as much as they could," said Palmer.
Because the federal government says the property, money and supplies for this business is now theirs.
In its complaint, the feds say Zhang would place help-wanted ads in New York Chinese newspapers seeking “young pretty masseuses” with “good massage skills” and “a slight knowledge of English.”
Confidential informants would fill in the blanks saying the women were expected to have sex with customers and the operation would have 30 to 40 clients a day at 70 bucks a pop; a big enough illegal enterprise that got the feds’ attention.
"Occasionally we get involved when there is a large scale prostitution enterprise, one that either crosses state lines or where it’s presented a continuing challenge to local law enforcement," said Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein.
Zhang has the challenge now; a civil complaint seizing all her assets from the feds and criminal charges of prostitution and human trafficking from Baltimore County.
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