Metro

Arrests made in local sex trafficking ring

Three massage parlor owners were arrested Thursday in connection with ­human trafficking charges and in allegedly using their parlors as “thinly veiled fronts for prostitution,” Attorney General Martha Coakley announced.

Zhen Lai, 37, of Quincy, and Joseph Girouard, 55, of Revere, were arrested as a result of an investigation by Coakley’s ­office, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Wellesley Police Department. Lai and Girouard jointly operated Sun Spa in Wellesley and Bodywork in Revere, authorities said.

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Coakley’s office announced late Thursday night that Wenjie Dong, 49, of Malden had been arrested on the same charges.

“We received information back in March that the Sun Spa may be a front for prostitution,” Wellesley Police Chief Terrence Cunningham said.

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“Our investigators started to work on it. Shortly after they got involved in the investigation, it became apparent that it may be more of a human-trafficking case.”

The department then contacted the attorney general’s Criminal Division and immigration officials, he said.

Lai and Girouard were also involved in “transporting Asian females to work at the spas and engage in sexual conduct for a fee,” Cunningham said.

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The investigation found that the massage parlors were offering sexual acts to clients in ­exchange for cash classified as tips and advertised on websites “known to advertise prostitution,” Coakley’s office said.

“Human trafficking can exist anywhere, as shown with this investigation,” Bruce M. ­Foucart, special agent in charge of Immigration’s Homeland ­Security Investigations Office in Boston, said in a statement.

“We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who commit these crimes are held account­able for their actions.”

On Thursday, investigators were in Malden, Revere, Quincy, ­Kingston, Wellesley, and ­Manchester, N.H., said a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation.

Dong and Girouard are scheduled to be arraigned ­Friday in Chelsea District Court.

Lai is due to be ­arraigned Friday morning in Dedham District Court.

Travis Andersen and Milton J. Valencia of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Colin A. Young can be reached at colin.young@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter ­@ColinAYoung.

Travis Andersen and Milton J. Valencia of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Colin A. Young can be reached at colin.young@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter ­@ColinAYoung.
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