CRANBERRY TWP — A joint investigation between Cranberry Township Police Department and the FBI into human trafficking in Butler County resulted in the arrests of two women on prostitution charges.
Chen-Sui Hong, 59, and Jinfeng Jiang, 26, were each charged with promoting prostitution and criminal use of a communication facility, both felonies, following their arrests at separate Cranberry hotels. The two women also were charged with possessing instruments of a crime and prostitution, both misdemeanors.
The arrests were the result of a joint investigation between township police and the FBI's Violent Crimes Against Children/Human Trafficking Task Force. Authorities arranged meetings with the two women and an undercover officer in response to online advertisements offering sexual acts in exchange for money, according to Cranberry Police Detective Justin Hewitt's affidavits.
Charging documents said advertisements for both women appeared on the same website.
Cranberry Police Sgt. Chuck Mascellino said the investigation looked into human trafficking in the area and the women were arrested because they engaged in prostitution. However, he referred all other questions to the FBI. A phone call to the FBI's Pittsburgh field office was not immediately returned.
Hong remains in Butler County Prison in lieu of $75,000 bail. Jiang is in jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.
Investigators arranged to meet the women through text messages and phone calls to two phone numbers, which had different New York City area codes. Hong is identified in court documents as being from Flushing, N.Y., while documents do not indicate where Jiang lives. The affidavits indicate the arrangements were not made with the women themselves.
Arrangements were made to meet Hong on Oct. 24 at the Comfort Inn in Cranberry Township, where, according to Hewitt's affidavit, she agreed with the undercover officer to have sexual intercourse in exchange for $300.
Following that alleged agreement, she was arrested, and police seized the $300, three cellphones, a tablet, lubricants, cleansing wipes and 504 condoms.
After Hong's arrest, another man approached the room in which Hong met the undercover officer. Police interviewed the man, according to the affidavit, who said he responded to an ad on the same website and made arrangements to meet Hong using the same phone number police had.
The affidavit stated “In reviewing the cellular communication, it was observed the format of the communication (was) exactly consistent with that of the undercover officer's communication.”
The investigators' arrangements with Jiang were made similarly, and an undercover officer met Jiang on Oct. 28 at a hotel on Route 19 in the township, according to Hewitt's second affidavit.
There, police said, Jiang agreed to perform oral sex in exchange for $300. Police detained her after the alleged agreement.
In Jiang's hotel room, police allegedly recovered the $300 exchanged and seized one cell phone, lubricants, cleansing wipes, one condom and five play money $20 bills. In addition, Jiang was in possession of nearly $16,000, according to an affidavit.
One phone seized by police following Hong's arrest received “numerous” calls from the same phone number police used to make arrangements to meet her, Hewitt's affidavit states. The undercover officer also spoke after the arrest with an unidentified caller who was responsible for setting up the meeting.
Police interviewed Hong through an interpreter, according to the affidavit. Hong told investigators she responded to a newspaper ad to perform massages and also agreed to perform sex acts in exchange for payment, according to the affidavit. Additionally, Hong said she did not have any identification.
“Hong stated her passport and identification was given to a friend prior to coming to Cranberry Twp. as she was told someone would steal it,” the affidavit states.
As with Hong, Jiang's cell phone received “several” calls from the same number police used to make arrangements to meet her following her arrest, both in the hotel room and in the police station. Hewitt's affidavit further states the same number called the undercover officer's phone several times.