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Crime & Courts

Human Trafficking Investigation Zeroes In On Aiken Massage Parlors

Arrest follows a lengthy undercover operation …

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Agents of the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) arrested a Georgia woman last Friday (December 8, 2023) and charged her with seven counts of prostitution. According to the press release, the arrest of 52-year-old Ping Hong Tang of Evans, Georgia is part of an “ongoing investigation” into allegations of human trafficking at “illicit massage businesses” in Aiken County.

Probable cause affidavits accompanying the warrants for Tang’s arrest revealed the existence of an extensive undercover operation that began on January 1, 2023. As part of that operation, an undercover officer visited T Aroma Massage at 220 E. Gate Drive in Aiken – paying $100 up-front for a 30-minute massage and indicating to staff that $40 of that cost was to go towards an upfront tip for the employee.

Toward the end of the massage, the officer negotiated a sex act with the employee for an additional fee.

A subsequent review of the business’s records by law enforcement — including ledgers and credit card receipts — found customers tipping disproportionately for the services received. Further investigation revealed that Tang had an extensive history of allegedly promoting commercial sex activities through her businesses – including one under the same name located in North Augusta at 401 W Martintown Rd.

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These charges came after a multi-agency search of seven Aiken County massage businesses on August 16, 2023 – which were announced in a news release by SLED at the time. SLED is partnering with the Aiken County sheriff’s office, the Aiken, S.C. department of public safety, the North Augusta, S.C. department of public safety, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s investigations unit (HSI).

While our media outlet has made its position on prostitution perfectly clear over the years (our founding editor Will Folks has consistently called for its decriminalization), the concern surrounding these establishments is they are havens for human trafficking – i.e. sex slavery.

We have also been reliably informed Aiken is a hotbed of such activity …

Anyone with information about suspicious behavior or possible illicit activity that could involve human trafficking should contact SLED at the following email address: Tips@sled.sc.gov.

Also, if you or someone you know is a current or former victim of human trafficking, survivor resources with the South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force can be found here and also at the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network at www.scvan.org.

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RELEASE/ WARRANTS …

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Jenn Wood (Provided)

Jenn Wood is FITSNews’ incomparable research director. She’s also the producer of the FITSFiles and Cheer Incorporated podcasts and leading expert on all things Murdaugh/ South Carolina justice. A former private investigator with a criminal justice degree, evildoers beware, Jenn Wood is far from your average journalist! A deep dive researcher with a passion for truth and a heart for victims, this mom of two is pretty much a superhero in FITSNews country. Did we mention she’s married to a rocket scientist? (Lucky guy!) Got a story idea or a tip for Jenn? Email her at jenn@fitsnews.com.

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2 comments

I Call BS December 12, 2023 at 10:58 am

Human Trafficking sounds like a great excuse for prosecuting victimless crimes, aka prostitution. How wonderful that SLED keeps these women from earning a living by doing something a lot of men apparently are willing to pay for.

Reply
Not Cool December 12, 2023 at 8:56 pm

To “I Call BS” – Sometimes prostitution is consensual, and really how is that different that two people “hooking up” after meeting at a bar or on a “dating” site?

But then there is the non-victimless prostitution, and I think the police should focus on the “business owners” and clients, and help the workers with other options:

“Recent arrivals” who are promised a legitimate job, then have their passports, IDs, etc. held and are forced to perform sex acts to pay for housing or to pay off smugglers who brought them here.

Drug addicts forced by drug dealers or pimps to sell themselves for drugs.

Teens who meet a “boyfriend” (often online) who then manipulates and abuses them, and forces them to be sold for sex or used in pornography.

Maybe FitsNews can follow up with some info on the “working conditions” at these massage parlors. Curious how many included living quarters (meaning the “workers” aren’t going home). That combined with many being open are open 12+ hours, seven days/week is a sign that “workers” are not free to leave.

Hopefully Spartanburg County follows suit on investigating the massage parlors in that county. Based on past inaction and prior “issues” years ago with investigating houses of prostitution, I doubt it, but it’s an election year, so….

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