Police seize ledgers detailing customers of alleged Smyrna prostitution business

SMYRNA — Community complaints prompted a yearlong investigation culminating with human trafficking and prostitution related arrests early Monday morning, authorities said.
James E. Walls, 61, and Sha L. Shen, 64, were taken into custody during a 6 a.m. search warrant execution at their home in the 100 block of Holly Ridge Drive, Smyrna Police said.

At about the same time, a search was underway at Kiki Spa in the unit block of E. Commerce Street, according to spokesman Cpl. Brian Donner.
Smyrna Police and Homeland Security Investigations conducted the warrants, Cpl. Donner said.

Police said Ms. Shen was listed as Kiki Spa’s owner in records, and Mr. Walls was supposedly known to operate the business with her.
An attempt to leave a phone message at Kiki Spa Wednesday was unsuccessful. The kikispa.business.sit website said it was open until 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, though its operating status was unclear.

There was no sign of activity at the business early Wednesday afternoon and curtains covered the windows .
“Action on the business is pending and all of the appropriate state agencies have been notified as this is their purview,” Cpl. Donner said.

Department of State spokesman Doug Denison said a Division of Professional Regulation Department investigation is probing “both the massage facility itself, which did not have a license, and the two individuals who were arrested, both of whom have active massage licenses on file.

“The findings of the investigation will be presented to the division’s Deputy Attorneys General, who will aide in determining if any disciplinary proceedings will result.”
It was Smyrna’s first human trafficking case with charges “to my knowledge,” Cpl. Donner said.

Detailed ledgers seized
In a probable cause affidavit filed by a detective, police said “numerous ledgers were seized that belonged to the business Kiki Spa.
“These ledgers were used to keep track of customers and the amounts they spent in the spa. Also located in the ledgers were scripts for the workers to use to offer sexual acts to customers.”

Business documents and ledgers went back as far as 2015, police said. One ledger recorded customers and the time they arrived, the affidavit stated.
Two women were found at the business and identified through fingerprints, according to authorities. Their passports had allegedly been taken from them in Flushing, New York, documents stated, and one reportedly had been required to pay a $40,000 debt “that she had over her head” to an undisclosed person.

The women were given the Smyrna address and used a bus service to get to the spa, according to the affidavit. They were not paid to work, the affidavit said, and only earned tips from customers.

In documents, police said the women slept on the Kiki Spa first floor, one on a mattress surrounded by foldable partitions, the other across from the front greeting desk.

The defendants allegedly had more than 12 surveillance cameras linked to their cell phones to monitor the workers, authorities said.
Three bus schedules were taped to a kitchen wall of the business, police said.
The affidavit stated that “Traffic stops conducted on men who were observed during surveillance also confirmed that they were paying for sexual acts … in the Kiki Spa.

“These individuals also provided written statements of their interactions and negotiations with workers.”
No further arrests had been made as of Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.

In the affidavit, police said Ms Shen was interviewed by a translator.
“When asked about how the women located her business she stated that she paid an advertiser however would not disclose his or her identity,” a detective wrote in papers.

Operating hours
Police heard concerns from the community about suspected sex/prostitution activity and suspicious operating hours, Cpl. Donner said. The business was open from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. seven days a week, according to the website.
Investigation found that two women from East Asia had allegedly been trafficked into the United States illegally to engage in prostitution and other sex acts at the business, police said.

Along with Smyrna Police and Homeland Security, Cpl. Donner said the Salvation Army, Zoe Ministries, Garden Hope of New York and Restore New York are providing resources for the supposed victims.

The women “are receiving resources actively and their safety and security and healing is paramount,” Cpl. Donner said.
Also, Cpl. Donner said in a news release Tuesday, “This collaborative effort between law enforcement, human services and other non-profit program providers was able to help make this a victim centered case, ensuring that those people affected by these criminal acts received all the possible support available to them.”

Mr. Walls and Ms. Shen were presented through Justice of the Peace Court video court and charged with human trafficking (two counts), third-degree promoting prostitution and second-degree conspiracy. They were then held by the Delaware Department of Correction in lieu of $70,000 cash bond pending a future preliminary hearing.

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