From The Trussville Tribune staff reports
MONTGOMERY — The Madison County Circuit Court has granted a request by Attorney General Steve Marshall for a temporary restraining order against a chain of North Alabama massage businesses. Marshall said these businesses were operating a human-trafficking enterprise. This is the first civil action taken under the new civil enforcement provision to Alabama’s human-trafficking law. The complaint also alleges violations of Alabama’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
According to the attorney general’s office, the granting of the request means that TY Green’s Massage Therapy Inc., its owner Yuping Tang and manager Jiao Liu, who is her daughter, and their four businesses are restrained from conducting business in Alabama. The businesses operates in Huntsville under the names Health Massage and Massage Foot Care, and in Madison and Decatur under the name Massage Foot Care. All assets have been frozen and a receiver was appointed by the court to take control of the businesses until a preliminary injunction hearing can be held.
“Alabama’s new law provides a valuable tool to more effectively fight human traffickers and restore dignity and freedom to their victims,” said Marshall. “With this civil action, we were able to respond to the dire urgency of the situation, shut down the trafficking operation, rescue the victims, and preserve assets that can be used to help those who have been harmed.”
In his legal complaint, Marshall told the court that “evidence collected during this investigation has revealed that the Defendants are running illicit massage businesses that serve as fronts for a human-trafficking operation. In the Defendants’ organization, the ‘employees’ work incredibly long hours during which at least some of them are expected to engage in sex acts with the businesses’ customers. When the victims are not ‘working,’ they seem to have little freedom of movement, they are transported in groups to and from the Defendants’ businesses and are kept in houses owned by the Defendants where they are left to eat and sleep in terrible conditions. The Defendants, on the other hand, have reaped millions of dollars in revenue from their businesses, and the Attorney General now brings this action in order to put an end to their conduct and protect their victims from further harm.”
According to Marshall, the immediate civil court action was vital to keep the defendants from moving and hiding their victims, as well as to stop disposal or transfer of assets. In addition to financial accounts, the defendants’ business premises and residences have been seized. Attorney General Marshall has asked the court to permanently shut down what the attorney general calls the defendants’ human-trafficking network and grant monetary damages as restitution for its victims.