KENNEWICK, Wash. — A massage business in Kennewick was searched by law enforcement on March 1 in connection with a human trafficking operation, according to a press release from the Columbia River Drug Task Force (CRDTF). The search was accompanied by four other searches across the state, all relating to the same investigation.
The CRDTF reports first learning of two massage businesses serving as a front for prostitution in 2022. Investigation into the locations led to two arrest warrants. Both 60-year-old Linhui Yan and 43-year-old Yan Yang, from Tacoma, are wanted for charges including leading organized crime, promoting prostitution and money laundering, according to the press release.
Five searches connected to the men were conducted on March 1 through the CRDTF, in conjunction with the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Wenatchee Police Department, East Wenatchee Police Department, Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, Kennewick Police Department, South Sound Gang Task Force, Department of Corrections, FBI and Homeland Security. According to the press release, the Kennewick search was conducted on the 6200 block of Clearwater Ave. Two searches were in Wenatchee, the other two in Tacoma.
Law enforcement arrived at the Clearwater Ave massage business around 10:30 a.m. on March 1, according to KPD Sergeant Chris Littrell. But upon entering, they found no one inside. The CRDTF reports the investigation is ongoing.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, more than 22,000 people were victims of human trafficking in 2022. Advocates are available locally to support human trafficking survivors and spread awareness.
The Support, Advocacy and Resource Center (SARC) has a human trafficking unit with multiple helpful resources, according to advocate Isabella Boeckmann. She says that sex trafficking around the Tri-Cities tends to be more like “Romeo Pimp situations,” where someone “sugars” someone else so they will provide sexual services. It’s important to be aware of warning signs for any and all forms of trafficking.
“Any bruises or lacerations around the wrists, rope burns,” said Boeckmann. “Somebody might be carrying large amounts of cash around, you have an abundance amount of hotel keys.”
Other signs of trafficking include multiple phones, consistently getting new things despite no or little income, avoidance of help and changes in demeanor.
“At any point you have someone that you know is being sex trafficked, or you may think is being sex trafficked, or you just have questions about sex trafficking, that’s what we’re here for,” said Boeckmann.
To contact the SARC Human Trafficking Program, contact 509-374-5391. All services are free and confidential.