Two women are accused of opening illegal massage parlors in neighborhoods in the Carolinas.
The investigation began in Winston-Salem and led Homeland Security to arrest massage parlors throughout our area. Their locations range from Indian Trail to Rock Hill and Gastonia.
One of those places is a house in Rock Hill on Saluda Street. At first glance, it may look like a normal house, but investigators said what was happening inside was anything but normal.
READ ALSO: Charlotte woman takes Massage Envy to court after sexual assault allegations
A neighbor told Channel 9’s Ken Lemon that she suspected something was wrong, but was surprised when Lemon told police and Homeland Security that the house was part of a criminal enterprise.
“This is one of those things you don’t expect to happen next door,” Amy Cheever said.
Cheever said there was a family living next door, which is now empty. But about two weeks ago, police and federal agents say they busted an illicit massage parlor at the home.
The details surprised Cheever.
“Disgusting, terrifying, surprising,” he said.
Investigators said that room was not the only one. Seven women face charges in a prostitution operation and reportedly operate out of eight parlors in North and South Carolina. Six of them are in Channel 9’s viewing area.
READ ALSO: Charlotte woman claims therapist at massage spa touched her inappropriately
Cheever said he suspected something was wrong when he said someone put up a sign for a massage parlor and strangers began visiting the house.
“Stylish cars, some different, every day,” he said.
Police said the operators had a salon in Indian Land. Chopper 9 Skyzoom flew over it on Tuesday. And in Gastonia, people recognized one of the women arrested at a spa on Garrison Boulevard in Gastonia and feared there were people living there too.
Investigators said all locations were raised, although Cheever said he never saw police on Saluda Street.
“Shock, really shock,” he said.
Cheever said people have stopped by the house since police made an arrest in Rock Hill. The signs that were there have disappeared, and researchers and neighbors hope that any problems that may have existed before have also disappeared.
The two women accused of operating the salons have been identified as: Li Huang, 49, and Chongmei Wei, 59.
Huang was arrested and charged with one felony count of promoting prostitution and one felony count of continuing a criminal enterprise. He was given bail of $15,000. Wei has outstanding arrest warrants for promoting prostitution and continuing a criminal enterprise.
(WATCH BELOW: Six people cited in prostitution and human trafficking investigation in York Co., agents say)