JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Federal agents are assisting in an investigation at the Tang Dynasty Foot Spa in Jacksonville Beach, according to a spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Sources said it’s an investigation into a report of human trafficking.
Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office records show Bo Tang and Shen Liu were arrested on charges of permitting an unlicensed person to practice massage. They were scheduled for court hearings Thursday afternoon.
Unmarked cars and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office police cruisers were spotted outside. A spokesperson for ICE confirmed that Homeland Security Investigations is supporting JSO. A spokesperson for FBI Jacksonville also confirmed it was part of the operation.
A woman told News4Jax she was checking out when officers wearing masks came in and began handcuffing people.
“They had zip ties for handcuffs,” said the woman, who did not wish to be named. "There were about 12 people in the massage chairs at this time and all of us were in the front office where they gathered our information and they let us go.”
NOW: Police just escorted two people from Tang Dynasty into a patrol car. They had zip ties around their wrists. A woman who lives across the street says they’re the owners. They didn’t comment when I asked about the human trafficking allegations. @wjxt4 https://t.co/ph15O4yhxx pic.twitter.com/HPQZhTJ5sC— Corley Peel (@WJXT_CorleyPeel) February 26, 2020
Bennett Depew said he works across the street and saw officers as they arrived.
“I turned around and one marked police car and two or three unmarked cars pulled up very quickly,” Depew said. "I know it’s a well-liked place. I’m actually very surprised to hear anything negative about it.”
Customer Karen Cheek said Tang Dynasty said she was shocked by the scene at the spa Wednesday.
“We pulled in. I saw the open sign, came and knocked because it’s locked and I looked through the little window and I could see people in there so I knocked," Cheek said. "A police officer in full garb, face and everything covered with a bunch of police officers surrounding him, just opened the door and said they’re closed and shut the door real quick and relocked it.”
Officers could be seen escorting a man with zip ties around his wrists out of the spa, and a woman was put in a patrol car. Witnesses said the man and woman own the business. Witnesses said they also saw two other employees leave the spa in a JSO van.
The Jacksonville Beach Police Department said it is not involved with the investigation.