Police affidavits stated that the tip came when the property manager “became aware of a problem when an industrial waste disposal unit connecting the property to city sewer services became clogged and destroyed by hundreds of condoms.”
Someone was having a lot of sex. Police knew that much for sure.
Jade Massage Therapy, located in a strip mall on the edge of town, was already under investigation in February, when the property manager called police to report the discovery, according to affidavits reviewed by KXAN-TV.
Not exactly facing a “Columbo”-caliber mystery, investigators suspected the parlor owners were running a prostitution ring.
On Tuesday, after pinning down a few more pieces of evidence, they acted on that suspicion.
Joseph Emery, 54, and Juan Wang, 49, the husband and wife who run Jade Massage, were arrested and charged with engaging in organized criminal activity and money laundering, local media reported. It was not clear Tuesday if either had hired an attorney or entered a plea.
Covington told the American-Statesman that the condom-clogged pipe marked something of a turning point in the investigation.
The condom tip came in on Feb. 7. Two days prior, local media reported, transportation officers stopped Wang at Austin Bergstrom International Airport and found roughly $30,000 in cash packed in duct-taped bundles in her luggage. She reportedly claimed the money came from the massage parlor and told officers that she was using it to pay for a medical procedure in China.
“When [an officer] pointed out that she was carrying in excess of a year’s worth of income Wang became visibly nervous and had difficulty answering further questions,” the affidavit said, according to the American-Statesman. Still, she was allowed to board the plane.
Several tenants in the strip mall that housed the parlor told police earlier this year that the owners may have been involved in prostitution, according to KHOU. Those complaints and the discovery of the condoms prompted investigators to check the adult classified advertising website Backpage.com, where they reportedly found multiple advertisements for sexual services at Jade Massage.
In early March, detectives stopped two men coming out of the business who allegedly admitted they were there to receive sexual services, KXAN-TV reported. Police said the parlor would charge $60 for a massage and between $40 and $120 for sex.
On March 22, police raided the parlor and the couple’s home.