CRYSTAL LAKE – The list of Crystal Lake massage parlors recently busted for prostitution has gone from zero to four in less than two months.
Police said employees at three separate businesses engaged in sexual acts in exchange for money Wednesday during an undercover operation led by the Crystal Lake Police Department.
The investigation into the businesses began following several complaints from residents.
Chom Peloquin, 56, Li Huang, 43, and Lijuan Pan, 48, all of Crystal Lake, were charged with prostitution and violation of the Massage Licensing Act. Sun Guifen, 49, also was charged with violating the act, and none of the employees involved had valid massage licenses.
Police said the illegal activities took place at Marigolds Massage, 2 Crystal Lake Plaza; Blue Sky Spa, 632 N. Route 31; and Aleda Massage, 1500 Carlemont Drive.
“These spas are popping up all over the place because they blend in with all the legitimate businesses,” Crystal Lake police Cmdr. Dan Dziewior said. “The difficult part is conducting an investigation. You have to invest time, and it has to be done a certain way to be successful.”
During the undercover operation, the employees were charged after they performed a massage before attempting a sexual act on the police officers posing as customers.
“Our guys didn’t go in there and ask for something extra, and it wasn’t offered to them,” Dziewior said. “[The employees] just started doing it and were immediately arrested.”
Additional charges and arrests are expected as numerous violations of city ordinances regarding building codes also were discovered, police said.
Members of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office, Kane County Sheriff’s Office and Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents assisted with the investigation.
The arrests come less than a month after the owner of a massage parlor in an unincorporated area of McHenry County near Crystal Lake was arrested for prostitution a second time.
Shufang Lu, 49, of Chicago, was arrested Nov. 19 and charged with prostitution, unlawful practice of massage therapy and violation of a bail bond following a second undercover operation by the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office at her business, Spring Spa, at 5610 S. Route 31.
After her first arrest in late October, members of the sheriff’s office received additional complaints from residents about suspicious activity at the business.
During both undercover operations, police said Lu agreed to perform sexual acts for money. A second woman, Jing Hua, 50, also was charged with unlawful practice of massage therapy after the second incident.
Oftentimes, the businesses caught performing the illegal acts are connected, with employees moving from one location to another, Dziewior said.
“They are still giving a massage as they normally would, the only difference is how it ends,” Dziewior said. “It all depends on the type of customer and employee. If you ask for a little something extra, you are most likely going to be shown the door.”
The price difference between a massage and the sexual acts is negligible, police said.
“It’s not that much more for illegal sexual conduct than it is for the legal massage,” Dziewior said. “We do not consider this an epidemic, but it brought up concerns that we wanted to address right away. We don’t want this to become more prevalent.”