Women nabbed in prostitution ring 'are not willing participants'



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Posted on June 19, 2013 at 11:03 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 20 at 12:30 AM

COLLIN COUNTY — It is a complex prostitution network that reached six states and three North Texas counties.

A federal indictment alleges that Quyen Thuc "Tony" Ha operated 10 brothels that masqueraded as "massage parlors" in Collin, Dallas and Tarrant counties..

The U.S. Attorney's office confirms 20 people have been arrested and 11 have been federally indicted, including Ha.

Eleven people face federal racketeering charges and another nine face state charges related to prostitution, said Malcolm Bales, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas.

The prostitution ring generated millions of dollars in revenue and operated out of homes, apartments, and massage parlors. The investigation, dubbed "Operation Flaming Dragon," started when Plano police acted on tips from residents.

"Even a single phone call would result in something like this," said Plano police Chief Greg Rushin. "If you see something, say something."

The investigation was a coordinated effort by federal, state and local agencies. But for Teena Adler, when she sees the pictures of the suspects, she sees victims.

Adler is a human trafficking survivor who was first sold for sex when she was 14 years old. She was also offered a job at a massage parlor, and says she knows what these women are going through.

"They're being paid and bought and shipped to the next person," Adler said. "They are not willing participants. They are being sold... like animals."

The feds allege that Ha and his colleagues transported prostitutes from California, Nevada and Georgia to Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

"There's no information that the women working in these massage storefronts were victims of human trafficking or involuntary servitude," Bales said.

But Adler vehemently refutes that assertion. "It’s just ludicrous to think these women had a choice... that’s just not how it is," she said.

Agents have confirmed so far that no juveniles were involved in the alleged prostitution ring.

E-mail jpanicker@wfaa.com