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Woman Gets 5 Years in Human-trafficking Case with Ties to Greater Lowell

December 20, 2018
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WOBURN -- A Medford woman involved in a sex-ring operation that included three massage parlors in the Lowell area was sentenced to five years in state prison Wednesday.

Xiu J. Chen, 38, was initially indicted on multiple counts of human trafficking and money laundering in 2013 following an investigation into an extensive criminal enterprise, according to a press release issued by Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office.

Earlier this month Chen was found guilty following a five-day trial in Middlesex Superior Court of six counts each of trafficking of persons for sexual servitude and conspiracy to traffic persons for sexual servitude; five counts each of deriving support from prostitution and keeping a house of ill fame; and four counts of money laundering.

In addition to the five-year prison term, Chen was placed on three years of probation. She will also not be allowed to work in bodywork or massage establishments, or to have contact with the victims or her codefendant, 62-year-old Ronald Keplin, of Woburn.

The case against Keplin, who was indicted on similar charges in 2013, remains ongoing, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Chen and Keplin could have been in business dating back to 2011, according to a past release from the Attorney General’s Office.

After a seven-month probe, investigators seized nearly $400,000 in cash from massage parlors that they allege were fronts for prostitution. The pair were arrested in May 2013 by State Police assigned by the Attorney General’s Office and agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, with assistance from various local police departments.

The Attorney General’s Office named six massage parlors involved that have since been shutdown: Bedford Asian Bodywork, also known as Bedford Wellness Center, at 200 Great Road in Bedford; Billerica Bodywork, also known as Shrine Spa and the Boston Chinese Club, at 572 Boston Road in Billerica; Body Language at 11 Middlesex Ave. in Wilmington; Mystic Health Center in Medford; Body Wellness Center in Reading; and Woburn Wellness Bodywork, also known as Asian Bodywork in Woburn.

Chen and Keplin allegedly recruited women from across the Eastern Seabord to provide sexual services for money, according to information released by the Attorney General’s Office.

The pair allegedly coordinated recruitment of the women through sources including Craig’s List, advertised sexual services online, set up appointments for the encounters and managed the financial aspects.

The victims, according to the Attorney General’s Office, were in their 20s and 30s.

Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis

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