Free Minds & Free Markets

'No Allegations of Human Trafficking' and 'Women Could've Walked Out' In Florida Massage-Parlor Prostitution Stings

Authorities are walking back big claims about an international human-trafficking ring involving Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

@ohitchcock/Twitter@ohitchcock/TwitterIt's been nearly a week since Florida police started bragging about their big "human trafficking" bust, an operation that pulled in professional football owner Robert Kraft, more than 150 other men, and several Chinese immigrant women associated with Asian spas in Palm Beach County. Police say the spas were fronts for prostitution, that the workers there were victims of sex trafficking, and that their six-month long investigation was time well spent.

Six months is a long time, however, and it's hard to reconcile the cops' timeline with their heroic rhetoric. If the women employed at these businesses were really the victims of "modern slavery," why did police take six months to get them out of that situation? Why did it require repeat intimate undercover visits and building misdemeanor prostitution charges against all sorts of random men before these "heroes" decided to intervene?

It's one of many elements that don't add up with what prosecutors are saying in public and what's actually happened in the case.

At a press conference (partially aired on CNN) today, Palm Beach District Attorney Dave Aronberg spent most of his time talking about the theoretical horrors that could occur in situations like this. "Modern day slavery," as Aronberg called it, "can happen anywhere, including in the peaceful community of Jupiter."

However, no human trafficking charges were filed among the hundreds of (current and coming) prostitution charges, he admitted, adding that first-time offenders (like Robert Kraft) are "very unlikely to get any significant" time behind bars.

"There's no allegation that any defendant engaged in human trafficking," said Aronberg.

Police keep calling the women that worked at Orchids of Asia and the other spas that were part of the sting "trafficking victims." But most have declined to cooperate with police as such.

Martin County Sheriff Snyder told CNN today that police were having trouble getting one woman in custody to "cooperate" in explaining why they would "go and allow themselves to be trafficked."

"They had the ability, they could've walked out into the street and asked for help," he continued, noting that they often worked long hours and cooked food on a hot-plate instead of leaving for meals. "But they didn't."

Instead of taking this as a sign that these women were willingly engaging in this work, police continue to seek ways to explain away this evidence. (And the CNN host asked why they wouldn't "speak their truth.") Snyder claims that one woman said she was afraid people might hurt her family if she cooperated.

This type of claim is made regularly by police in these sorts of investigations. That is convenient, considering they're the only ones allowed to talk to any of the alleged victims and it's an explanation no one can verify, unlike initial claims from law enforcement—now countered by Synder—that massage parlor workers weren't allowed to leave.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft is accused of getting a blow job from one of these women, which the Jupiter Police Department caught on camera during its weeks-long video surveillance of Orchids of Asia Day Spay.

@ohitchcock/Twitter@ohitchcock/TwitterKraft and 24 others originally named were each charged with one or more misdemeanor solicitation charges (top punishment: one year in jail, up to 100 hours of community service, "john school," and a mandatory fine). More than 100 more men are to be charged with solicitation, Palm Beach authorities say. Additionally, an operation in nearby Indian River County yielded at least 138 charges for solicitation.

Several women connected to the spas were also arrested. Lei Wang, 36, was arrested last Tuesday on charges of "maintaining a house of ill fame" and getting proceeds from prostitution. She's being held in Palm Beach County Jail. "Circuit Judge Dina Keever-Agrama told Wang through a Mandarin interpreter that she must prove that any money she posts for her release was not derived from illegal activities," reports the Palm Beach Post.

Another woman from Orchids of Asia, 58-year-old Hua Zhang, is also being held in Palm Beach County Jail on related charges. According to police, Zhang was both the owner of the spa and a sex worker there.

Two other women were also arrested on charges of engaging in prostitution, money laundering, deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution, operating a house of prostitution, and permitting prostitution.

Early reports from local news said that all of this was "tied to an international human-trafficking and prostitution ring," but police have offered no evidence of that so far. The whole case is reminiscent of a 2016 sting in Seattle, announced with similarly dire fanfare but yielding nothing but prostitution findings (and a lot of misery for those targeted by police).

Residents of Jupiter seem to be having fun with all of this. Local reporter Olivia Hitchcock shared multiple pictures of people posting for smiling selfies in front of the store.

But beyond Florida busybodies and national-media-courting cops, it's unclear that anyone else has benefited from all of this.

Law enforcement has yet to back up the serious claims their massive operation was premised on. They've also backed down from some of the more shocking assertions offered at the start—even as more media have run with the sex-slavery ring narrative. Whatever comes, it's clear this story has already developed meme-like proportions that obscure the reality of the situation. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere between dens of captive sex slaves and totally empowered and free workers, but we'll never get there by treating this as a movie-style rescue fantasy.

Photo Credit: @ohitchcock/Twitter

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  • Ham Sarris||

    So they can massage people all over the body but if they put the p in their mouth then it's a crime.

  • Crusty Juggler||


  • Chipper Morning Wood||


  • loveconstitution1789||

    Pen and Phone?

  • Echospinner||


  • RobertWorth||

    It's likely a crime if they even put the p in their hand. But that is humanity for you and at least half the public, if not well over half, support those laws.

  • JB Say||

    R Kelley?

  • SchillMcGuffin||

    their month-long video surveillance of Orchids of Asia Day Spay.

    "1/5. Terribly disappointing. I really need to read the signs more carefully when I go to these places."

  • creech||

    Horribly treated sex slaves held in bondage are observed by cops for one month before they rush in to free them? I don't think so. Too bad they didn't have an outstanding traffic ticket warrant and a puppy dog - the cops would have rushed in at 5am with a full Swat team.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    SIX months! Not just one.

  • IceTrey||

    Well they had to go back several times to "gather evidence".

  • TangoDelta||

    They turned the screws and asked who the most famous client was. When they heard it was Kraft the Dolphin fans in the sherriff's department creamed their pants and decided to hold off until they could catch Kraft directly. Because... Krispy Kreme?

  • Mongo||

    Pro tip: avoid Asian Irises Day Spa.

  • IceTrey||

    I only go to the Asian Venus Flytrap Day Spa.

  • JB Say||

    That one has closed

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Believe All Cops!!

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Don't generalize, bro.

  • Libertymike||

    As I have constantly asseverated here, as well on platforms all over the tubes, and in person, the default position is, and should be, I DON'T FUCKING BUY IT.

  • DajjaI||

    The problem is that people want to believe it. Therefore they will. Note how Aronberg was grinning as he lamented the scourge of sex trafficking. They are on to something big and they know it. This can be modeled after the drug addiction hysteria of the 80's inflamed by Mel Sembler, a Florida real estate magnate.

  • Libertymike||

    Thanks for the link.

    Mr. Sembler should be SWATTED.

  • DajjaI||

    No one should be swatted. (Not sure what that is but doesn't sound good.) We were silent when this happened in the 80's. Too late to do anything now. But we can speak out against sex trafficking hysteria. We must however understand the tactics that will be used to promote it, and Sembler provides a good model.

  • Anomalous||

    Sembler is a dissembler.

  • DajjaI||

    If sex trafficking doesn't exist, it will after Kraft donates a cool hundred million into it.

  • Libertymike||

    What are the chances that he will stand up, and be a man, and fight the power?

    BTW, he already contributes to an organization that promotes awareness of human trafficking. The organization is headed by a female professor at Brandeis.

  • DajjaI||

    You just answered your own question.

  • TangoDelta||

    It exists because it is exacerbated by the illegality of prostitution. If prostitution was legal, it would substantially undercut trafficking. It's largely a simple matter of supply and demand. I thought we libertarians had this kind of stuff figured out.

  • JFree||

    The issue imo is that legalizing/prohibiting prostitution is a local decision not a federal one.

    If it is locally illegal, then the local cops/ministers/pols/judges/etc who find it beneficial to yap about 'human trafficking' will do so.

    The problem I'm having with this story is that I don't see where there is a federal level involvement in any of this and I don't live there so it isn't my business.

  • Libertymike||

    Cops are, and have always been, foot soldiers in the progressives' war on liberty.

  • Thomas O.||

    People are taking selfies in front of the business? That just seems weird... unless they're Dolphins fans doing "#FuckThePats" posts.

  • DenverJ||

    They could be tourists. At least 90% of Muricah vehemently dislikes the New England Cheaters.

  • TangoDelta||

    Selfie monkeys take pictures as they walk off of cliffs, why should this be surprising?

  • Curt||

    The "news" in 2019 America: Reporters taking a picture of a person taking a picture of people taking a selfie.

  • Rich||

    If the women employed at these businesses were really the victims of "modern slavery," why did police take six months to get them out of that situation?

    So the police could nail bust arrest big fish like Kraft, DUH!

  • cc2||

    The logic seems to be that slavery is the only explanation for why women do sex work. Couldn't be the $. No. Not possible.

  • Johnimo||

    We have only to look to politics to see the same situation. Could it be they "do politics" for the money? I'm pretty sure we're all getting fucked by them .... and after giving them all of our money to boot!

    Oh no? They're in politics because they're slaves to their need to do good. Yes! That must be it!

  • RobertWorth||

    Well know that women hate sex and also hate money, so no way they would have sex with dirty, evil, bad men (all of them) for money. They would rather work in a factory for 50 hours a week and get 1/4th the pay.

  • JB Say||

    Street hookers get 0% from most pimps.

  • MJBinAL||

    I don't have any personal knowledge of this ... but do you? how? Are there studies to support this?

    Actually not arguing, just interested. I see all sorts of allegations and statements but not much to back any of it up.

  • MasterThief||

    So, he is accused of getting a happy ending at a jack shack? I didn't read the previous article, but it sounded much more serious and far less believable.
    Side note: wasn't Al Gore accused of rolling over and trying to get a happy ending at a massage parlor? I never heard that story retracted, so forgive me if it was proven false rather than memory holed.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Patriots owner Robert Kraft is accused of getting a blow job from one of these women, which the Jupiter Police Department caught on camera during its weeks-long video surveillance of Orchids of Asia Day Spay.


    But really, how the eff did they get something like that on camera? That's not creepy at all.

  • Longtobefree||

    Would you call making sex films illegal?
    Is there any way they can use that 'evidence' without 'transmitting' in violation of federal laws?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Who cares that people who only got massage had their privacy invaded.

    This is about criminalizing behavior that the constitution never gave enumerated powers to ban.

  • Sevo||

    'We'll succeed in ending prostitution THIS time, fur sher!!!!!!'

    Here's a push-broom, officer. The tide's coming in and I want to to keep it out.

  • Robert||

    It's people getting paid for one of the nicest, sweetest things people can do for one another.

  • Jerryskids||

    If the women employed at these businesses were really the victims of "modern slavery," why did police take six months to get them out of that situation?

    You don't read the articles about cops here on Reason, do you? If you're waiting for the cops to come rescue you, bring a book. And some body armor.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Dont ever call the cops to help you.

    Call them to file accident reports and to tell them that their budgets have been cut but never to help because they dont know how.

    They know how to shoot poorly and escalate situtations.

  • MJBinAL||

    "They know how to shoot poorly"

    NOT TRUE! They know how to shoot pets extremely well!

  • Ryan (formally HFTO)||

    Molly Jong-Fast is complete and utter garbage. A leftist, socialist, feminazi whose sole purpose is to generate woke likes. For the love of god stop putting her in the roundup

  • IceTrey||

    Thank god they've solved all the murders, rapes and robberies in Jupiter so they have the time for this.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    But to pull in that kind of money you need high end clients like Kraft.

  • RobertWorth||

    Of course it was all bullsh*t and you called it the first day this story broke. It was obvious, but you still get a lot of credit for stating it publicly so early.

  • Liberty Lover||

    Sex trafficking is a buzz word to embarrass the men and make a victim-less crime look like there is a victim. Sex trafficking became a well used term when people started talking about prostitution being a victim-less crime. If the women were underage or being held against their will, false imprisonment or kidnapping would cover the crime. Sex trafficking is a red herring.

  • chestrockwell||

    If they're gonna claim sex trafficking, the government is of course complicit in it since the best and most effective way of making sure a bunch of immigrants don't look for another job or a way out is to threaten them with calling immigration enforcement, no matter if they really did anything wrong, and of course our laws are totally there to make what otherwise would be a free choice into an involuntary one.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""Patriots owner Robert Kraft is accused of getting a blow job from one of these women, which the Jupiter Police Department caught on camera during its weeks-long video surveillance of Orchids of Asia Day Spay."'

    A POV video?

  • Lester224||

    Defendants will get misdemeanor charges of soliciting prostitution, a fine and a lecture. Boggles that somebody that wealthy would go to such low-rent places.

  • TravMcGee||

    No evidence of trafficking...thankfully the women who massaged Kraft were licensed therapists , it is a felony to massage people without a license, much more serious crime than prostitution and they would have faced jail time.

  • raymondshaw||

    Palm Beach County police must have a deuce of a time staffing for these operations.
    Lots of police are not above shaking down pros for freebies. Wouldn't that be awkward.
    An incident I heard about in Philly (back in the aughts), the poor gal was declined an after event request for $2
    for bus fare.

  • raymondshaw||

    Palm Beach County police must have a deuce of a time staffing for these operations.
    Lots of police are not above shaking down pros for freebies. Wouldn't that be awkward.
    An incident I heard about in Philly (back in the aughts), the poor gal was declined an after event request for $2
    for bus fare.

  • raymondshaw||


  • aaCharley||

    Wait. Wait. Wait!
    Haven't we been told that Sex Worker is simply another professional choice.
    People who engage in that line of work are earning an honorable income.
    Any defendant in this case should be able to claim that the providers were temporary employees engaged in job training. Kraft and others were helping improve skills so that these people can move from welfare to work, maybe even become self employed.
    I have been waiting for some of the honorable sex worker supporters to propose funding for a federal jobs training program in the field. How about student loans so that those wanting such a career can attend a trade school and have their skills certified?

  • Smilygladhands||

    One commonality I've noticed about Florida, the fuckedupery seems to flow out of Palm Beach Co. From elections to the police.

  • Incredulous||

    Seems like the real scandal is how our fascist laws create victims and human misery.

  • TravMcGee||

    The cops allege these women were servicing up to 8 guys per day and 1,500 per year...with the average tip being $75 the typical therapist at these places was earning over 2,000 cash per week, over $100,000 tax free income per year and the Spa owner was earning over $950,000 per year , she also worked as a prostitute , She has not been charged with trafficking.

  • spanky & alfalfa||

    you can get a bj at charlottes in's been there for 25 years or more open until 4:00 am...never raided....same as the pussy cat in miami

  • spanky & alfalfa||

    correction: scarletts.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    Wait just a darn minute!
    Weren't we told ad-nauseum 20 years ago that BJ's weren't sex?
    Were we lied to, by the Clintons & Co.?
    Sounds like Gov. DeSantis needs to expand his gaze northward from Broward when looking for "public servants" that need more time with their families.

  • Cool Status||

    The way you describe the matter is really impressive, but few things still I want to need, that time I decide to go they told me the information.

  • Think It Through||

    Smiled when I saw there were 69 comments on this story.

    Damn, now I've ruined it.

  • sgreffenius||

    I read your earlier article, but did not read this one until after I wrote one of my own. See Peeping Toms in Uniform at The Jeffersonian,

    Good work on your investigation and commentary!

  • killboyumeed847548588||

    Your confusion is understandable, but this blog is called The Volokh Conspiracy.


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