An investigation into alleged human trafficking in Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City led to a new arrest Tuesday.
Shui Mei Ching, 52, was arrested on charges of first degree money laundering, prostitution, receiving the earnings of a prostitute, putting a person in a house of prostitution and keeping a house of prostitution. Ching was the owner of Foot and Massage Spa, at 1960 Mesquite Ave.
Ching’s arrest came one day prior to the arraignment of alleged ringleader Amanda Yamauichi, 46, in Mohave County Superior Court. Also arraigned on Wednesday was alleged participant Dean Bassett, 52, of Bullhead City.
Charges against the three suspects stem from more than a year of investigation into seven massage parlors throughout Mohave County. Agencies involved in the investigation included the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Lake Havasu City Police Department and the Bullhead City Police Department. Five other suspects have thus far been arrested in connection to the alleged human trafficking ring on charges including prostitution and solicitation of prostitution.
Yamauchi remains in custody at Mohave County Jail on $5 million bond. Bassett, also still in custody at Mohave County Jail, saw his bond reduced this week from $300,000 to $30,000. Bassett is being represented by Kingman-based law firm Whitney & Whitney, and attorneys say Bassett’s culpability in the crime may not extend as far as investigators believe.
According to Homeland Security officials last week, the suspected massage parlors made use of Chinese immigrants who may have been coerced by business owners into performing sexual favors in exchange for money. Each of the victims were allegedly relocated to separate locations once per week, where they worked in excess of 12 hours per day, every day. They were permitted only to travel from nearby hotel rooms to their respective massage parlors and back, officials said.
Ching was transferred to Mohave County Jail, where she will await an Oct. 12 court appearance on $1 million bond.
As Ching awaits her arraignment, Yamauchi will herself face another pending legal battle in Mohave County Family Court. A lawsuit was filed against Yamauchi Thursday morning, but additional court records were unavailable as of press time.