By Mark Hallum
Three people are facing prostitution charges following an April 21 arrest in Bayside in which the alleged ringleader offered two of his “employees” to two undercover cops from Queens Vice Enforcement Division for sex acts in exchange for money, the Queens district attorney said.
Cheolryong Shin, 31, was identified in the criminal complaint filed by the DA’s office as the man who allegedly attempted to sell two officers on a full body massage complete with sexual gratification before being arrested alongside Ting Ting Wen, 27, and Yan Yan Hong, 40.
After Shin allegedly offered the services of the two women for a fee of $160, the undercover cops were led into the basement of a business at 211-54 45th Drive, where the fee was discussed again with the female defendants, the complaint said.
The location is an inconspicuous office space with no exterior signage indicating there was a massage parlor of any kind occupying the building, which also houses a dental business. It is on a quiet residential street west of Bell Boulevard.
“This is certainly not the first one in this community,” 111th Precinct Community Council President Jack Fried said. “[Officers] have been very active in getting these under control. It’s not that easy for them to just walk in and declare the place a house of prostitution, they have to actually be propositioned. So that makes it a little bit tougher, but they are on top of it.”
One of the biggest obstacles to long-term enforcement is the fact that many who are arrested for prostitution are usually free within days and operating out of a new location, Fried said.
On top of the prostitution charges, Wen and Hong also may face legal trouble as neither of them is licensed to practice massage therapy in the state of New York, according to the criminal complaint.
Shin claimed to be the manager at the Bayside spa when speaking with the undercover officers at about 6:40 p.m. on the night of the arrests, the criminal complaint said.
“Prostitution and sex trafficking has absolutely no place in our communities and I applaud the NYPD Vice Enforcement Division for their work in addressing this issue throughout Northeast Queens,” Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) said.
Another massage parlor was also shut down by NYPD Vice units in late April, according to Vallone’s office, at 25-46 Francis Lewis Blvd. after the councilman passed along constituent complaints to law enforcement.
The sting is just one of many in the northeast Queens area over the last two years.
An undercover operation in April, executed within the confines of the 111th Precinct that took place just off Bell Boulevard, took a different approach compared to a raid in the Flushing section of the 109th Precinct that saw one of the women working in the massage parlor fall three stories to her death in November 2017.
Advocacy groups the Sex Workers Project and Support Ho(s)e rallied in front of the precinct house on Union Street, demanding justice for the dead woman of Chinese origin, Yang Song, 38.
According to police, Song fell out of a window while cops were attempting to enter a room and apprehend her.
In September 2016, the 111th Precinct shut down the Bling Bling Body Works at 39-25 Bell Blvd. for the employees not being having a license to practice massage therapy.
In August 2016, three Murray Hill establishments were forced to close their doors after the NYPD’s Vice Enforcement Division gave the order to vacate. This followed an occupancy inspection by the city Department of Building, prompted by state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside).
In a major crackdown back in March 2016, 31 people in Flushing and Whitestone were arrested by the Queens North VICE unit of NYPD, which visited 18 establishments and brought suspects in on mainly unlicensed masseur charges. Other charges were prostitution-related, the police said.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall