SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Authorities confirm that 2 people have been arrested in Shreveport after a raid at a Shreveport massage parlor in connection with a multi-state human trafficking investigation.
In early July, the Louisiana State Police Special Victims Unit was contacted by Missouri State Police about the multi-state human trafficking and money laundering investigation involving massage parlors in Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Alabama.
As a result of the investigations, a raid was conducted Thursday at Palm Massage in the 1900 block of East 70th Street, according to Louisiana State Police spokesman Trooper Matt Harris.
Louisiana troopers added their own efforts to 70 other officers in Missouri who conducted 18 raids of their own on Thursday, all in an effort to crack down on a drug trafficking ring that Missouri state officials claim stretches beyond the United States.
"It was a very successful day yesterday across all four states," Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley told KSLA. "This is a trafficking ring that is of fairly significant size, may stretch back to the west coast and beyond that to east Asia."
During Shreveport's raid, state police say evidence was gathered that indicated the owners of the establishment were involved in labor trafficking where Chinese females were trafficked from the East coast to Louisiana and forced to work.
"The owners were involved in labor trafficking two females that were trafficked from the east coast," said Trooper Harris.
The two women are now safely in protective custody, Harris told KSLA.
30-year-old Bingbing Li and 34-year-old Linan Tian were both arrested early Friday morning and charged with two counts of human trafficking.
Hawley told KSLA Li and Tian are persons of interest in their own state's investigation, reporting that they believe the two are deeply connected into this drug trafficking ring.
Through Louisiana Secretary of State records, KSLA also tracked down a second location that Tian and Li owned in the 2100 block of Old Minden Road in Bossier City but it was locked when our crews arrived there.
But workers at its neighboring business told KSLA they've seen suspicious behavior outside that building on multiple occasions, including seeing many expensive-looking cars with different state license plates coming and going.
Shortly after KSLA's arrival at the Bossier City location, one of the co-owners of the building that parlor was housed in also arrived to find the doors locked.
She told KSLA she is working with troopers now and was shocked to find out about the raids. She said Li and Tian never missed a rent payment and never caused any disturbances.
However, she said she is now working to legally evict Tian and Li's business from her building.
Detectives also seized more than $17,000 and three vehicles as part of the investigation.
"Those women were rescued. That's always a victory," said LeAnn Bussey, the program director of Shreveport's "Purchased: Not For Sale" ministry.
Bussey said their two-year program works to re-acclimate trafficking survivors to living a normal life which she said can be as difficult as re-learning how to walk.
"She has to completely rewire her brain to think, to feel and to react in healthy way," Bussey said.
The investigation is ongoing and Trooper Harris said more arrests will be made.
According to Bussey, anyone can join with their program to learn more about human trafficking and join the fight against it in Shreveport.
"Not let it scare you and just instead learn: 'How can I be a part of someone's freedom and how can be a part of this fight?'" she said.
LSP/SVU was assisted by the LSP Region 3 Criminal Investigations Division, Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office, Bossier City Police Department, Shreveport Police Vice Unit, US Department of Homeland Security, Bossier City Marshall's Office, and the Louisiana State Fire Marshall.
Click here if you'd like to find out more about how to volunteer with "Purchased: Not For Sale."