Two arrested in human trafficking, prostitution ring
For the first time in months their lights are off. The note on the door says out of business. You wouldn't even know what was in business until reading their sign that's already been flipped, Panda Paws Massage.
"Some people were a little suspicious but yeah I'm kind of shocked," said property manager Marilyn Kurka.
The longtime manager of the Cedar Park business complex was even more surprised last Tuesday. She watched police arrest 45-year-old Greg Sanfratello and 47-year-old Xiaofeng Wo, both charged with human trafficking and running a prostitution ring.
Open just three months, local business owners say suspicions began when Panda Paws' business took off. They said it wasn't uncommon to see 30 to 40 customers go in every day, the majority of them men.
"When you talk human trafficking you're essentially talking slavery," said Captain Jeff Hayes with Cedar Park Police Department.
A customer complaint sparked Cedar Park Police to survey the shop. Detectives say they watched Sanfratello and Wo drive women from the nearby Middlebrook Apartments to Panda Paws. Online, police say they advertised sex through backpage.com.
Soon the case stretched to Round Rock. Police believed women were forced to live inside the now closed Unique Massage.
"Whatever kept them there and under their control is a terrible, terrible thing," said Hayes.
Undercover officers visited both locations for massages and each were approached for sex halfway through.
"It's just scary that they can move into a complex like this and get away with doing that," said Kurka.
Police arrested Sanfratello and Wo, putting their five female employees in protective custody.