Lutz Massage Parlor Shutdown For Prostitution And Money Laundering, 7 Arrested Including Owners

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL. – A multi-agency law enforcement operation led to seven people arrested, including the owners of prostitution ring masquerading as massage parlors.

Sheriff Chad Chronister was joined by FDLE Special Agent in Charge Mark Brutnell, and representatives from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, St. Petersburg Police Department, Largo Police Department, and Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County, to announce the success of Operation Shared Hope.

Operation Shared Hope began in September 2020, when the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office received a tip about illegal activity occurring at Simply Massage in Lutz.

Through the course of the investigation, detectives found the owners of that massage parlor, James Robert Smith and his wife Nan Chen Smith, were running an illegal prostitution ring at the property and using the business as a front.

As detectives looked into the couple further, they were able to link a total of 12 different massage parlors to the couple in recent years. All are believed to be involved in this criminal ring.

Detectives also found evidence that the couple and their business associates laundered more than $1 million into their bank accounts.

On October 27, 2021, law enforcement from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, St. Petersburg Police Department, and Largo Police Department executed search warrants on the Smiths’ home, a storage unit, and the 12 massage parlors linked to them.

Detectives seized more than $750,000 between cash and vehicles.

Detectives arrested seven people, including the Smiths, who were all part of this criminal ring. 

James Robert Smith and Nan Chen Smith

“If not stopped by Operation Shared Hope, this criminal organization had immediate plans to expand with the addition of two more parlors in Tampa Bay,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “We know most of these women are being trafficked. We can only hope and pray that they will come forward so we can get them the help and resources to rescue them from this horrific cycle.”

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