Cops go undercover in revealing massage spa; woman charged

A woman claiming to be manager of the Asian Massage Spa business in North Branch was arrested on charges of felony solicitation and promotion of prostitution during a search warrant there March 17.
She has been identified as 48-year-old Xirong Chen, out of New York, who appeared in Chisago County District Court on March 19. According to County Attorney Janet Reiter, unconditional bail was set at $100,000, or $50,000 with conditions, including that she be placed on formal pretrial supervision and sign waivers of extradition.
The East Central Drug and Violent Offender Task Force and North Branch Police executed the search warrant at 38880 Oakview Ave., Suite 2, as part of an ongoing investigation that began in early February. This came after the Police Department received complaints about a high number of men observed coming and going from the business and the business advertising on a website with use of sexually provocative photographs of Asian women wearing lingerie, said North Branch Police Chief Dan Meyer.
According to the court complaint:
Initially, two undercover agents posing as customers visited the business and received massages on two separate occasions. One reported “nothing sexual” in a room that was mostly empty except for a foam mattress, and the other said his massage “did not contain anything sexual” while on what appeared to be a futon mattress with a sheet over it.
A week later, one of the agents returned for another massage, which was done by a different adult Asian female. Going back five days later, he met with the same woman who positioned herself on him in a seemingly provocative fashion. She told the agent that “customers continue to touch her and that she did not like it.” She said she told her boss about it, “and her boss responded that customers can touch her.”
The employee also noted she is only able to work for tips.
The same agent returned Feb. 27 and was introduced to another adult Asian woman whose actions included inquiries over removing his towel and underwear. “The massage is better this way,” she explained. She then focused on the agent’s buttocks and pelvic area. As things progressed, the agent confirmed with her that a certain sex act would cost $30.
The second undercover agent received similar treatment during his massage appointments. On at least one occasion the session ended with the employee giving a hug to an agent. Another worker said “more young girls are coming next week.”
On March 11, while waiting for an undercover massage, other law enforcement agents were in the parking lot outside of the strip mall business and observed the shop until it closed. They watched as three females exited the building and walked to the nearby motel in North Branch.
Later, as two of the massage workers left the motel and began to walk along Highway 95, undercover agents asked a North Branch officer on patrol to stop and identify the women, who had committed a pedestrian crossing violation at a controlled intersection. One of the females was identified through a China-employer identification card and the other was Chen.
Law enforcement executed search warrants at the massage business, the hotel rooms associated with the employees of the massage business and one of the worker’s vehicles at about 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 17. At the Asian Massage Spa, officers found an adult male lying face up and nude atop a mattress in one of the rooms; multiple smartphones and a tablet PC; a wireless router, allowing access to the Internet; about $1,700 in cash and $1,500 more in a purse next to a passport; and what appeared to be a torn-up boarding pass, which had been thrown into a trash receptacle.
In a statement with an investigator, Chen said she was the manager of the massage business and said that “it was OK for men to masturbate themselves during a massage.”
One of the other adult females, also in a statement with authorities, said she worked at the parlor seven days a week and received $28 in cash for each massage.

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