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Indiana News

SJCPD investigates human trafficking at area massage parlors

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FILE PHOTO: Justin Hicks
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IPB News

The St. Joseph County Police Department is investigating potential human trafficking and tax fraud at multiple area massage parlors.

According to a news release, the county police executed search warrants and made entry at four massage parlors and one residence Monday. All properties are located in St. Joseph County and owned or operated by the same person.

Police say multiple women were living inside each business location. Through a Mandarin Chinese interpreter, officers were able to confirm that at least some of those women had been trafficked and were being forced to work against their will. As of Tuesday afternoon, at least two women had requested help and were being provided aid.

A spokesperson for the county police department provided the following addresses for the massage parlors:

  • 421 Hickory Rd., South Bend
  • 12670 SR 23, Granger
  • 50795 SR 933 N., South Bend
  • 2614 S. Michigan St., South Bend

The release says over the course of the 14-hour search, investigators interviewed business owners and managers, nine customers and 12 suspected female victims. Police also seized $88,000 in cash from the five locations.

Investigators also seized thousands of pages of financial records Monday. County officers are working with the state department of revenue to investigate potential tax fraud at the businesses.

Sheriff Bill Redman said Tuesday that the investigation has been in the works for some time. No arrests have been made yet, but he said the investigation will continue with the help of state agencies.

According to the release, the Indiana State Police, the state department of revenue and the Battle Ground Police Department (north of Lafayette) assisted in carrying out the search warrants Monday. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has also assisted in the investigation.

This story will be updated.

Contact Gemma at gdicarlo@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo.

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