DELAWARE CO., Ohio (WCMH)– The owners of several massage parlors in central Ohio were sentenced to prison Friday after being convicted on human trafficking charges.
According to Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, Delaware County Common Pleas Judge J. Timothy Campbell sentenced Estella Xu, 55, and her sister, Qing Xu, 58, to each serve 10 years in prison after they were found guilty of compelling employees at their three area massage parlors to engage in sexual activity for hire, and classified a Tier 1 Sex Offender.
In August, a Delaware County jury found the sisters guilty of one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity with a human trafficking specification and eight counts of promoting prostitution with human trafficking specifications. A jury also found the defendants guilty of three counts of money laundering and three counts of practicing medicine without a license.
The case was prosecuted jointly by prosecutors with the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office and Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office and was investigated by authorities working as part of the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, which is part of the Ohio Attorney General’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission.
Members of the task force began investigating suspicious activity at the Amsun Massage businesses in Powell and Worthington and at Rainbow Massage in Columbus after tips from the community indicated that customers were purchasing sex at the massage parlors and some workers appeared to be living at the locations. Investigators executed search warrants at the three businesses and the sisters’ Columbus apartment in January.
The investigation found that the sisters recruited women from outside the state who were native to China, could not speak English, and had no ties to Central Ohio. The defendants led the women to believe that they would be working legitimate massage parlor jobs, but instead forced them to engage in sexual conduct with customers.
“This is a groundbreaking case,” said Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien. “Together we are changing the way society identifies a victim and evolving to prosecute the real criminals, those behind what is essentially modern day slavery.”