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Charges: massage parlor used for human trafficking

Shuxin Lan

WOODBURY — A White Bear Lake woman has been charged with sex trafficking, promoting prostitution and money laundering using a business in Woodbury.

Shixun Lan, 51, was arrested Sept. 11 following an investigation by the East Metro Sex Trafficking task force.

According to the criminal complaint:

During investigations by the East Metro Sex Trafficking task force in August 2017, a Woodbury detective noted a business known as Woodbury Wellness advertised on Backpage.com. The website, which has since been deactivated by the federal government, was a website that police used to track criminal activity and sexual offenses. Woodbury Wellness was listed under the massage section, and showed pictures of four women in front of and inside the business.

Investigators noticed this January that Woodbury Wellness was still posting on Backpage.com, and that the email address associated with the account also listed women-seeking-men advertisements in the commercial sex category. The email was also connected to the Orchid Spa in White Bear Lake.

The task force conducted surveillance of Woodbury Wellness from July to September, and noticed a steady flow of male customers and at least two women who seemed to be living inside the business. Police also observed Lan picking up women from Woodbury Wellness and Orchid Spa, then bringing them to stay at her home. She then brought the women back to the parlors in the morning.

Woodbury Wellness' hours were from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., which police found are common hours in similar investigations.

Reviews of the business on Backpage.com by patrons said they got a "happy ending," that the women giving the massages were nude and that they touched each other sexually during the massage.

Police executed search warrants on the site Sept. 11. They located and arrested Lan at the bank trying to deposit over $7,000 cash.

The city of Woodbury licensed the massage parlor in May 2017, as state statute requires all massage therapy businesses.