Operation “Bad Apple” Goes After 12 Businesses in Human Trafficking Sting

August 24, 2020

A Denver grand jury indicted seven individuals and 12 businesses on 33 felony counts in a human trafficking sting on Thursday, August 20, according to Fox News.

The investigation, which lasted for over a year was called “Operation Bad Apple” and was organized and carried out by the Denver police and the district attorney’s office. “Bad Apple” targeted multiple massage parlors and illegal marijuana grow-houses. These businesses are believed to have garnered millions of dollars by trafficking women from China, evading taxes, and laundering money.

“The defendants were hiding in plain sight as they trafficked women from China to engage in sex acts with customers of their massage businesses,” Denver DA Beth McCann said in a statement.

The now-closed businesses involved in human trafficking were: Denver Apple Spa, Tulip Spa, 21 Spa, Mojo Massage, Ocean Foot Massage, and several others.

The seven indicted individuals were: Chen Liang Kuo, Yi Ting Mo, Mangqui Xu, Le Zhang, Ying Guo, Xiong Xie, and Xuelin Chen. They range from 33 to 57-years-old, according to Fox News.

In 2018, District Attorney McCann received a tip that some businesses may have previously operated in Aurora. Trevor Vaughn, a tax and licensing manager stated to the Sentinel Colorado that he contacted the FBI back in 2018 after several women working at Ocean Foot Massage refused to show identification to authorities during an audit.

Ocean Foot Massage shut down the following day, but Vaughn soon discovered that Ocean Foot’s owner, Chen Kuo, had another business in Denver that was still operating. The city of Aurora closed more than 20 businesses in the city over the past two years, Vaughn stated to the Sentinel.

Image via Denver District Attorney’s Office

Bad Apple discovered the human trafficking operation has been linked to Denver County, Douglas County, Arapahoe County, Routt County, and Jefferson County as well as outside of Colorado from Oklahoma, Louisiana to California, the DA’s office reported.

Investigators also tracked “criminal proceeds through a network of bank accounts to support the money-laundering charges in the indictment,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser stated. He also added illegal marijuana “grow houses diverted revenue from the state.”

Feature Image via Denver District Attorney’s Office

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