According to Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, four local law enforcement agencies and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement cooperated to arrest seven people in a bust this past week to break up a prostitution ring in 12 local Tampa Bay massage parlors, seizing $750,000 in cash and luxury vehicles.
About the Bust
The operators of the ring, James and Nan Smith, a married couple with a 5-year-old child, were arrested along with two managers and three other employees whose names have not been released.
Though Sheriff Chronister has not released the exact locations of the parlors he has said that eight were in Pinellas and the other four were in Hillsborough. Before their arrest on Wednesday, October 27th, the couple had plans to open two more massage parlors.
It is estimated that the Smiths earned millions during their short time in operation, while many of their workers were allegedly forced to sleep at the parlors to maximize profits. Many of the women that were exploited through this prostitution ring were as young as 18.
Search Warrants and Arrests
The Smith’s prostitution operation began in September 2020 and ended Wednesday after search warrants were served for all 12 locations. The women working at these massage parlors only received tips while working there and the owners and managers kept most of the profits. Condoms and lingerie were among evidence recovered, which as stated by Chronister are “never found in a reputable massage parlor.”
Tampa Bay Detectives arrested the owners and employees of the massage parlors and seized more than $750,000 in cash and assets; including luxury cars and valuables that were purchased with profits from the prostitution ring, according to Sheriff Chronister.
The Smiths currently face charges of racketeering, money laundering, and deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution. Their 5-year-old child has been taken into custody.
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