Court continues for women charged in alleged prostitution case

Xirong Chen Jin Mei Lin Fengzhi Gao
Xirong Chen

Three women who were arrested and charged last month following a 1 1/2 month investigation at Asian Massage Spa in North Branch are awaiting their respective pretrial hearings in Chisago County District Court.
Xirong Chen, 48, of Fresh Meadows, New York, was charged with a felony count of promoting prostitution. Ultimately posting the higher unconditional bail amount of $100,000, she was not required to sign waivers of extradition as part of her conditions of release, Chisago County Attorney Janet Reiter said.
Chen, who in the criminal complaint claimed to be the manager of the business, is scheduled to appear at an omnibus hearing, a pretrial hearing that deals with the legal issue of probable cause, on April 29 and possibly a jury trial July 6.
Also arrested were Jin Mei Lin, 27, of Brooklyn, New York, and Fengzhi Gao, 62, of San Leandro, California, each charged with promoting prostitution as well as a felony count of receiving profits from prostitution. The women, who in a court complaint were identified as owners of the business, posted conditional bail in the amount of $50,000 and are on formal pretrial release supervision. They were ordered to not leave Minnesota and sign waivers of extradition, Reiter noted.
The next hearings for Gao and Lin are set for 11 a.m. April 30 and 1 p.m. June 3, respectively.
The East Central Drug and Violent Offender Task Force and North Branch Police executed a search warrant March 17 at Asia Massage Spa, 38880 Oakview Ave., Suite 2, as part of an undercover investigation that began in early February.
The investigation was triggered by several complaints from the public about the possibility of prostitution or sex trafficking activities occurring at the massage parlor, as a high number of men were observed frequenting the business. Local authorities also learned the business was advertising on a website that commonly advertises illegal services, such as escorts and prostitution.

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