EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 5, 2014

Port investigation eyes human sexual trafficking

NEWBURYPORT — A Chinese woman with a New York address is out on $250 bail after arraignment yesterday on sexual solicitation charges, but police reports indicate there could be more to allegation than meets the eye.

Huitong Huo, 47, of 1234 70th St., Apt. 2, Brooklyn, N.Y., was arraigned at Newburyport District Court before Judge Peter Doyle on the charge of sexual conduct for a fee for alleged activities at a massage parlor at 150 Merrimac St. However, police say there is reason to believe that she may be a pawn in a human sexual trafficking business, which brings women to the U.S. for the sex trade. Police also found evidence that there was a rotation of women being brought into the building, with customers being booked by an offsite manager named “Juanna.”

Huo was released yesterday and ordered to return May 2 for a pretrial hearing. A Chinese native who speaks the Mandarin dialect and little English, Huo had a friend with her attempting to act as an interpreter. But Doyle ordered a Mandarin Chinese court interpreter be present on May 2 due to the difficulty both women had understanding court procedures.

Doyle warned Huo her failure to attend future hearings could result in bail revocation and her ending up in jail awaiting the court process.

According to Newburyport police Inspector Michael Sugrue, investigation into activities at 150 Merrimac St. began a year ago, when police began receiving anonymous letters complaining of “unlawful sexual misconduct” at the massage parlor. Most cited Craigslist as their source, as well as another adult website that provided reviews of “erotic massage parlors,” listed by city and state.

Sugrue searched that website for Newburyport establishments and was given the listing of Merrimac Bodyworks, located in one of the eight units in the Merrimac Landing professional office building.

Sugrue found three online reviews in which men claimed they received more than the standard therapeutic massage at Merrimac Bodyworks.

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