Couple faces multiple counts for operating house of prostitution
IMLAY CITY — An Imlay City couple has been arrested and charged with operating a criminal enterprise and house of prostitution.
Imlay City Police Chief Brett Selby reported Thursday that Imlay City residents Anthony Joseph Juip, 72, and his wife, Qing Feng Xu, 58, were recently charged in Lapeer County’s 71-A District Court by the Lapeer County Prosecutor’s Office.
Selby said the arrests came after a five-month investigation conducted by Imlay City Police regarding the couple’s businesses at 542 North Cedar Street in Imlay City and 420 Lake Nepessing Road in Lapeer.
According to police, Anthony J. Juip was arrested on three felony counts, including: one count of conducting a criminal enterprise, a 20-year felony; and two counts of keeping a house of prostitution; which is a five year felony.
Qing Feng Xu was also arrested and charged with the same three felony counts: one count of conducting a criminal enterprise and two counts of keeping a house of prostitution.
Selby said the police department’s initial investigation in April was limited to an exterior ordinance violation at Coco’s Asian Massage.
However, he said a closer look into the business’s licensing and legitimacy per city ordinances revealed an alarming set of facts.
Selby said Imlay City Police officers, posing as customers, gained access to both massage parlors and discovered they were “fronts for prostitution,” and potentially involved human trafficking and forced-sex trafficking.
Based on that information, on Wednesday, Aug. 3, Imlay City Police executed three separate search warrants at the aforementioned locations.
What they discovered, Selby said, were four Chinese women employed by Juip and Xu, living in Imlay City on work visas.
Selby said the women were detained and immediately offered victim assistance pending further investigation.
He noted the initial investigation had begun in April and was primarily focused on the massage parlor at 542 N. Cedar St. however, the accumulation of information warranted further investigation.
“I would like to thank the men and women of the Imlay City Police Department, as well as Michigan State Police, Lapeer County Sheriff Scott McKenna, Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their energy and investigative assistance,” Selby said.
“Our department has treated this investigation as though the women involved may be possible victims of human trafficking.”
He added that several women from other communities had been rotated in and out of the businesses over the course of the past year.
“The vast majority of the clientele that were visiting these establishments were from out of town and drove to Imlay City from various distances.
“The dismantling of this criminal enterprise by this police department should send a clear message,” Selby said. “That is that the Imlay City Police Department and Lapeer County residents will not allow bad actors to exploit vulnerable individuals.”
He asked that anyone with information about the illegal operations to contact the Imlay City Police Department at 810-724-2345.
“If you suspect human trafficking or forced sex trafficking in your community, contact your local police department, or call 1-888-373-7888.”
Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.