WESTFIELD — A Connecticut man has been held on $10,000 bail following his arrest in a statewide sex trafficking investigation focusing on massage parlors including one in this city.
Green Palace Massage Therapy at 51 Southwick Road was among four spas that fell under surveillance by investigators with the Westfield police, Massachusetts state police and the state attorney general’s office
John H. Smalls, 44, of Groton, Connecticut, was arrested in connection with the investigation. He was charged with sexual trafficking of a person for sexual servitude.
Smalls was held in lieu of $10,000 bail at his arraignment in Westfield District Court and ordered to stay away from the alleged victims. A codefendant, Jia Wang, 41, remains at large.
Court records filed in connection with the case say Westfield Police Officer John E. Blascak spotted what looked like indicators of a commercial sex business at the massage parlor last year.
“As part of this investigation, police have observed alleged targets (Wang and Smalls) to be knowingly facilitating commercial sexual activity of another person by setting up these illicit massage business locations, transporting women to the various locations, bringing supplies to the locations, and posting advertisements for commercial sex on websites,” a summary of the investigation states.
Two spas in Watertown and one in Worcester also were targeted in the probe, according to court records: Asian Therapy and Spa Center at 74 HIghland St., 1st floor, in Worcester; Suzyn Day Spa at 220 Waverly St.; and Nuu Medspa and Body Care at 2 Mt. Auburn St., both in Watertown.
Blascak’s report said investigators have seen women being shuttled between the Green Palace and apartments at 93 South Maple St. in Westfield and 60 Riverside Drive for overnight stays.
“Investigators observed both the victims/women and the targets bringing trash bags to these locations in an attempt to conceal items associated with illegal commercial sex including what appeared to be a ledger detailing the commercial sexual activity,” the document states.
It adds that police also observed what appeared to be telltale sex shop activity at the Westfield site.
“Upon investigation of this location, investigators observed a patterns of lone male parties entering the establishment for thirty to sixty-minute periods. Interviews with these parties confirmed they had paid for commercial sex with women working there,” the report reads.
Watertown police also confirmed similar activity at the sites in that city. Police executed search warrants at those purported spas in 2019 for sex trafficking and prostitution-related offenses, according to court records. Smalls and Wang also were spotted under surveillance bringing supplies and women to those locations, police said. Customers confirmed they had gone there for sex for a fee.
The same was true for the Worcester site, according to the report, where the web-based advertisements also were generated.
A spokeswoman for state Attorney General Maura Healey said that agency is working to support the women working at the spas.
“AG Healey’s Victim Services Division is working with victim service organizations to ensure victims have the assistance and services they need,” a statement from Healey’s office reads.
Healey’s office has a Human Trafficking Division dedicated to policy, prevention and prosecution. The division includes special prosecutors, victim advocates and state troopers who handle such investigations statewide.
Healey’s office has charged more than 60 individuals in connection with human trafficking operations across the state.
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