Massage Parlor Owner Indicted on Structuring and Sex Trafficking Charges
ANCHORAGE, AK—First Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin R. Feldis announced today that Yin Mei Tran Lau was indicted for structuring financial transactions in violation of federal law. In addition, Yin Mei Tran Lau has been charged by the State of Alaska with Sex Trafficking in the Third Degree for her role in managing an alleged prostitution enterprise. Yin Mei Tran Lau owns and operates Yin’s Massage Therapy located in Anchorage. As alleged in court documents, beginning as early as 2009, Yin Mei Tran Lau operated Yin’s Massage Therapy as a front for prostitution.
The federal indictment charges that in January 2009, over the course of approximately one week, Yin Mei Tran Lau attempted to structure bank transactions. Structuring occurs when an individual knowingly layers cash deposits or withdrawals under the $10,000 reporting threshold so as to evade reporting requirements mandated by the Bank Secrecy Act. Yin Mei Tran Lau allegedly used some of this illegally structured money to purchase real property in Anchorage.
The State of Alaska alleges that from 2011 to 2014, Yin Mei Tran Lau operated Yin’s Massage Therapy as a front for prostitution. An unsealed affidavit by detectives investigating the case indicates that the clientele was almost entirely men, that the only women besides Yin Mei Tran Lau in the business appear to actually reside at the business, and that the women working at Yin’s Massage Therapy would offer to perform sexual acts for a fee. Moreover, Yin Mei Tran Lau allegedly transported multiple women in and out of Alaska for purposes of prostitution.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted of structuring, Yin Mei Tran Lau faces five years’ imprisonment as well as fines. If convicted of sex trafficking in the third degree as charged by the State of Alaska, Yin Mei Tran Lau faces up to five years of imprisonment. Yin Mei Tran Lau is scheduled for arraignment on her State Court charges on December 16, 2014, at 10:00 a.m.
The case was jointly prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Bradley of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska and Adam Alexander of the State of Alaska Department of Law’s Office of Special Prosecutions. The case was investigated by the Innocence Lost Task Force, consisting of participation from the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Anchorage Police Department.