‘The Monsters Are the Men’: Inside a Thriving Sex Trafficking Trade in Florida
JUPITER, Fla. — Something was amiss at a massage parlor near one of the wealthiest barrier islands in Florida.
First, a health inspector spotted several suitcases. Then she noticed an unusual stash of clothing, food and bedding. A young woman who was supposed to be a massage therapist spoke little English and seemed unusually nervous.
The inspector reported her findings to the police. They would eventually learn that her suspicions were right: The women were not just employees: They were living in the day spa, sleeping on massage tables and cooking meals on hot plates in the back. Some of them had had their passports confiscated.
The inspector’s suspicions prompted a sprawling investigation across four Florida counties and two states — Florida and New York — over nearly eight months, resulting in the disruption of what authorities say was a multimillion-dollar human-trafficking and prostitution operation.
The sweep led to criminal charges last week against several rich, prominent men, including Robert K. Kraft, the billionaire owner of the New England Patriots; John Havens, former president and chief operating officer of Citigroup; and John Childs, founder of the private equity firm J.W. Childs Associates.
上周，该搜查行动导致了对几名显赫富人的刑事指控，包括新英格兰爱国者队的亿万富翁老板罗伯特·K·克拉夫特(Robert K. Kraft)、花旗集团前总裁及首席运营官约翰·黑文斯(John Havens)以及私募股权公司J.W.蔡尔兹联合公司(J·W·Childs Associates)创始人约翰·蔡尔兹(John Childs)。
Beyond the lurid celebrity connection, however, lies the wretched story of women who the police believe were brought from China under false promises of new lives and legitimate spa jobs. Instead, they found themselves trapped in the austere back rooms of strip-mall brothels — trafficking victims trapped among South Florida’s rich and famous.
“I don’t believe they were told they were going to work in massage parlors seven days a week, having unprotected sex with up to 1,000 men a year,” said Sheriff William D. Snyder of Martin County, whose office opened the investigation. “We saw them eating on hot plates in the back. There were no washing machines. They were sleeping on the massage tables.”
“我不相信她们是被告知要在按摩院一周工作七天，一年跟1000个男人进行无安全保护措施的性行为，”马丁县治安官威廉·D·斯奈德(William D. Snyder)说，他的办公室展开了此项调查。“我们看到她们在后屋的电炉上吃东西。没有洗衣机。她们睡在按摩床上。”
The women were shuttled from place to place — not only to nearby parlors but also across the state, said Sheriff Snyder. Sheriff’s deputies in Orange County, Fla., became involved in the investigation when women from the state’s Treasure Coast region were traced back to the Orlando area.
斯奈德称，这些女子被来来回回地从一地运到另一地——不单是附近，还有整个州的按摩院。佛州奥兰治县(Orange County)治安官手下的警官们开始参与这项调查是在发现该州维罗海滩(Treasure Coast)地区的女子可追溯到奥兰多之后。
Sheriff Snyder said he believed at least some of the women were working to pay off debt owed for what it cost to bring them to the United States. In some cases, the women’s passports were taken away. Traffickers cycled women in and out of parlors every 10 or 20 days, Sheriff Snyder estimated.
Yet making a trafficking case remains difficult, in part because the women who were victims may not want to cooperate with the police. Only one has been talking to deputies, Sheriff Snyder said. He had lined up about a dozen Mandarin interpreters, but many other women refused to speak and were let go with an offer of assistance.
“I would never consider them prostitutes — it was really a rescue operation,” the sheriff said, training his anger at the men whose demand for sex kept the massage parlors in business. “The monsters are the men,” he added.
In addition to arresting men ranging in age from their 30s to at least one in his 80s, the police charged several women who appeared to be overseeing the operation with racketeering, money laundering and prostitution.
Sheriff Snyder said investigators, who worked with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, estimated the trafficking ring to be a $20 million international operation. Men paid between $100 and $200 for sex, the sheriff said; between $2 million and $3 million has been seized in Florida, he said, including a safe stuffed with Rolex watches.
斯奈德称，据与入境和海关执法局(Immigration and Customs Enforcement)一起工作的调查人员估计，该人口贩卖团伙涉及2000万美元的跨国经营活动。他说，男性付100美元至200美元获取性服务，他表示佛罗里达已缴获200万至300万美元，包括一个塞满劳力士手表的保险柜。
State Attorney Dave Aronberg of Palm Beach County, whose office leads a human trafficking task force with the F.B.I., said trafficking foreigners to work in places like massage parlors can be more difficult to root out than trafficking, for example, American girls who are recruited in person or online.
“They come from countries where the police are part of the problem, and they’re smuggled into the country,” Mr. Aronberg said.
Laura Cusack, a social worker in charge of the human trafficking prevention and education program at Place of Hope, an agency for foster children and trafficking victims in Boca Raton, said foreign victims were often threatened by traffickers in their home countries.
希望之地(Place of Hope)的人口贩卖预防与教育项目社工劳拉·库萨克(Laura Cusack)称，外国受害者常会遭到本国人贩子的威胁。这是一家负责博卡拉顿(Boca Raton)地区的寄养儿童和人口贩卖受害者的机构。
“They’re told by traffickers, ‘I’ve got people waiting for you,’” she said. When social workers urge victims like that to come forward to the police, they say, “‘No, you don’t understand. They’re trying to find my little sister back home. They’re trying to find my daughter,’” Ms. Cusack said.
Mr. Havens, the former Citigroup executive, was elevated to the post in 2011 by his longtime confidant, Vikram Pandit, Citi’s chief executive. The two became friends as senior executives at Morgan Stanley before they both left in 2005 to start Old Lane Partners, a hedge fund that was acquired by Citigroup two years later for $800 million. Both resigned from Citi on the same day in 2012, after the Federal Reserve indicated Citi was not healthy enough after the financial crisis to start paying more money back to shareholders.
黑文斯曾任花旗集团(Citigroup)高管，2011年，他的长期密友、花旗首席执行官潘伟迪(Vikram Pandit)将他提拔到这个职位。两人在摩根士丹利(Morgan Stanley)担任高管期间成为朋友，后于2005年双双离开该公司，成立对冲基金Old Lane Partners。两年后，花旗集团以8亿美元收购该基金。2012年，美联储(Federal Reserve)暗示花旗在金融危机后不够健康，无法向股东返还更多资金，两人遂于同一天从花旗辞职。
Through a spokesman, Mr. Kraft, 77, denied engaging in illegal activity, and Mr. Childs in a statement to Bloomberg also denied the charges.
That such a lucrative trafficking network existed near the ritzy enclaves of Jupiter Island, home to the likes of golfer Tiger Woods, and Palm Beach, home to President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, seemed unfathomable to some of the gawkers who posed for selfies — and in some cases cracked off-color jokes — on Friday outside the Orchids of Asia massage parlor in Jupiter, the enterprise that officials said Mr. Kraft had visited.
朱庇特岛上有高尔夫球手老虎伍兹(Tiger Woods)的家，棕榈滩(Palm Beach)则有特朗普总统的马阿拉歌庄园(Mar-a-Lago)。周五在岛上的亚洲兰花日间水疗中心外自拍、不时也说点荤段子的游客们大概会觉得，在这些豪华领地附近会有这样一个利润丰厚的人口贩运网络，实在是不可思议——官员们说，卡夫特来的就是这家按摩院。
But Palm Beach was also the place where a well-connected billionaire financier from New York, Jeffrey E. Epstein, was accused a decade ago of molesting dozens of underage girls — some of them runaways or foster children who are vulnerable to sex trafficking. A federal judge ruled on Thursday that prosecutors violated Mr. Epstein’s victims by failing to inform them of a plea deal that would protect him from sex-trafficking charges.
但在十年前，纽约人脉广泛的亿万富翁金融家杰弗里·E·爱泼斯坦(Jeffrey E. Epstein)被控猥亵数十名未成年女孩的地点正是在棕榈滩，其中一些女孩是离家出走的，或是易受性交易侵害的寄养儿童。周四，一名联邦法官裁定，检方未将保护爱泼斯坦免受性交易指控的认罪协议告知他的受害者，从而侵犯了她们的权益。
The massage-parlor investigation began farther north, in Hobe Sound, a strip of mainland in Martin County where on July 6 the health inspector reported the signs of potential trafficking at the Bridge Day Spa, according to the arrest affidavit for one of the men. Sheriff’s deputies identified the spa’s owner and another nearby property under her name. They searched online forums where users posted about sex acts performed at the massage parlors. Based on the evidence they collected, they obtained a warrant to conduct surveillance.
根据其中一名男子的逮捕文书，关于按摩院的调查始于北部更远的地区，马丁县一片名为霍布桑德的狭长大陆地带。7月6日，那里的卫生检查员报告称，有迹象表明，桥梁日间水疗中心(Bridge Day Spa)有可能存在非法交易。治安官的警官们确认了水疗中心的主人和附近另一处以她的名字命名的房产。他们在用户贴出按摩院内性行为的网络论坛里搜索。根据收集的证据，他们获得了监视许可。
That approach was far more labor-intensive than past investigations, in which undercover deputies would go into the parlors and arrest women for prostitution, said Sheriff Snyder, a former Republican state representative who helped write Florida’s law against human trafficking.
“I made this decision that we had enough of that: Let’s go after the traffickers,” he said. “I feel, on some level, extremely dissatisfied that I can’t do more. I know that we don’t even make a dent.”
In the case of the Orchids of Asia parlor in Jupiter, where services were listed for $59 for half an hour or $79 for an hour, an arrest affidavit for the women managing the spa detailed a similar investigative approach. Police officers watched men going into the spa for 30 to 45 minutes at a time.
Once they left, officers followed the men, pulled them over for traffic violations and confronted them about paying for sex. That evidence led to warrants for surveillance cameras, which police secretly installed inside the massage parlors — apparently under the ruse of a possible bomb threat.
All of the men arrested in Jupiter were filmed paying for manual or oral sexual stimulation, according to police. Sheriff Snyder said the sex acts his deputies recorded in Martin County included sexual intercourse.
Law enforcement spent several weeks identifying the clients, and the women managing the trafficking victims, as well as tracing their finances. Police and prosecutors wrote up their criminal charges and raided the massage parlors on Tuesday.
By then, however, some of the women they had identified as victims had been moved elsewhere. New women had taken their place.