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Southern NH massage parlors focus of raids by federal agencies

By MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader

November 08. 2017 8:54PM
Agents remained at the scene on Main Street in Plaistow Tuesday night where a Homeland Security investigation was underway. (Jason Schreiber)

Federal immigration and homeland security agents raided several locations across southern New Hampshire on Tuesday night in an operation that sources say focused on massage parlors and prostitution.

Londonderry Police Chief William Hart said he provided federal officials a uniformed officer for at least one location, but would not discuss specifics because it is not his department’s investigation. Seacoast Online reported that investigators focused on a massage business in Exeter, Oakworks Therapy.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed that U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, local police and other federal law enforcement partners conducted an operation in several New Hampshire communities.

ICE would say nothing further, citing an ongoing criminal investigation.

“When it leads to an arrest, that’s when it becomes public,” said ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer.

Various news reports said locations were searched in Exeter, Plaistow, Salem and Londonderry. Law enforcement sources said the investigation focuses on massage parlors and prostitution.

The website Backpage.com includes postings for numerous massage parlors in southern New Hampshire. Ads show photos of young Asian women with friendly expressions. Most massages are listed at $60 to $70.

“New, cute girls, just arrived,” reads one ad.

Hart said Londonderry has had about one prostitution arrest in the last five years, calling it an “infrequent social issue” in the town.

“Certainly, it’s concerning when that sort of thing is in the community. It appears the Department of Homeland Security is addressing it,” Hart said.

Last year, New Hampshire received $1.3 million in grants to fight human trafficking, grants that were to be split between law enforcement and social workers. At the time, organizers said the effort would address both prosecution of the organizers of human trafficking and social services support for the victims.

Child and Family Services is a Manchester-based non-profit that employs a program director with the grant. The director, Rebecca Ayling, referred all questions about the program to John Farley, the acting U.S. attorney for New Hampshire.

He did not return a telephone call seeking information.

mhayward@unionleader.com


Crime Public Safety Londonderry Salem Exeter Plaistow Immigration


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