The owners of a string of massage parlors in Washington – including one in Kirkland – and California were arrested Thursday after an investigation found a prostitution and money laundering scheme.
Tham Nguyen, 48, and Suong Tran, 51, both of Burien, face charges of conspiracy to transport individuals in furtherance of prostitution and conspiracy to engage in money laundering. A federal grand jury handed down a two-count indictment against them Wednesday.
According to court documents, the defendants owned and operated three massage parlors in Washington, three similar businesses in California and a legal brothel in Nevada. The massage parlors were allegedly fronts for prostitution.
The massage parlors in Washington include the Fantasy Health Spa, at 11516 124th Ave. N.E. in Kirkland, the Sauna Relax Station in Auburn and Bamboo Sauna in Burien.
Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local law enforcement officers learned that beginning in 2007, Nguyen and Tran recruited women from out-of-state to work as prostitutes. The defendants arranged for the women to be moved among their businesses, generating substantial profits.
Financial records from the businesses also show the defendants conspired to conceal the source and proceeds from the illegal activity.
“This is a great example of law enforcement at several levels working together to combat a significant problem that plagues communities and crosses state lines,” said King County Sheriff Sue Rahr in a press release. “The Sheriff’s Office is very pleased to be a member of this partnership.”
The government is seeking criminal forfeiture of any property or proceeds gained from the illegal activity. This case is being prosecuted in the Western District of Washington.