Last week, North Bergen police detectives operated a sting on a massage parlor. They found three women allegedly soliciting prostitution and a fourth, the manager of the business, allegedly promoting prostitution at the site, the police said.
The alleged prostitution was uncovered at Angel's Place on the corner of First Street and Kennedy Boulevard in the township, a business that was supposed to specialize in acupressure methods of massage and pain relief, according to North Bergen Police Chief Angelo Busacco.
"We received a letter stating that they believed this massage parlor was operating as a place where prostitutes were," Busacco said. "I don't know why we received the letter, but we chose to act on it."
Lt. Joseph Bode and a group of four detectives whose names will be kept confidential for future undercover purposes regularly check out similar businesses, which might advertise in local newspapers, just to see if the businesses are legitimate, Busacco said.
"Some set up the guise of being a regular business to get the proper licensing from the township, but they are actually duping the town," Busacco said. "So Bode and his investigators scan the newspapers, read the ads and then do random investigations by going in and acting as customers."
Last week, appointments were made for four undercover detectives to receive massages, which allegedly cost $60 each. At times, Busacco said, a masseuse offered a sexual act or favor for an apparent additional charge. At that time, Busacco said, the police officers identified themselves and then placed the women under arrest.
Jin Lin, 29, who gave an address of living in Manhattan, and Jiyi Wang, 31, and Yang Le Ying, 38, both of Flushing, Queens, were taken into custody at the site, according to the police report.
The fourth woman, Su Yu of Rochelle Park, N.J., surrendered to North Bergen police after an arrest warrant was issued, according to Busacco.
Lin, Wang and Ying were all charged with soliciting prostitution, while Yu was charged with promoting prostitution, as the apparent business manager, according to Busacco.
All four were issued summonses for court appearances and released on their on recognizance.
Further investigations have found that at least one of the women arrested was not a naturalized citizen, so the state Division of Immigration and Naturalization Services has been notified of the arrests, according to Busacco. The business has since been closed and the township has now revoked the business' certificate of occupancy, prohibiting any future such business at the site.
Busacco said that the department had reason to be concerned about the site, because it is located in a residential area.
"Absolutely, we are always concerned about the quality of life issues," Busacco said. "We wanted to send a crystal clear message that we're on top of these places soliciting prostitution. They may be able to get a license to operate as something else, but eventually, we're going to get them."
Busacco said that the department, under Bode's leadership, has made raids on seven different massage parlors and three different escort services, all soliciting prostitution, within the last 18 months.
Bode also recovered a customer list logbook at the site and found that there were several names of alleged customers from all over northern New Jersey, like Bergen and Passaic counties, as well as New York.
"We called a few to see if we could gather more evidence," Busacco said. "Apparently, it was all done by word of mouth. One guy telling another one about this place in North Bergen. That's how they usually work."
Busacco said, "Bode and his undercover officers did a fine job, once again. They are really becoming experts in the field."