HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10)–Sheriff Chad Chronister was joined by FDLE Special Agent in Charge Mark Brutnell, and representatives from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, St. Petersburg Police Department, Largo Police Department, and Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County, to announce the success of Operation Shared Hope.

Operation Shared Hope began in September 2020, when the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office received a tip about illegal activity occurring at Simply Massage in Lutz.

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Through the course of the investigation, detectives found the owners of that massage parlor, James Robert Smith and his wife Nan Chen Smith, were running an illegal prostitution ring at the property and using the business as a front.

As detectives looked into the couple further, they were able to link a total of 12 different massage parlors to the couple in recent years. All are believed to be involved in this criminal ring. Detectives also found evidence that the couple and their business associates laundered more than $1 million into their bank accounts.

On October 27, 2021, law enforcement from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, St. Petersburg Police Department, and Largo Police Department executed search warrants on the Smiths’ home, a storage unit, and the 12 massage parlors linked to them.

Detectives seized more than $750,000 between cash and vehicles.

Detectives arrested seven people, including the Smiths, who were all part of this criminal ring.

You can see Sheriff Chad Chronister’s full press conference here.

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“If not stopped by Operation Shared Hope, this criminal organization had immediate plans to expand with the addition of two more parlors in Tampa Bay,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “We know most of these women are being trafficked. We can only hope and pray that they will come forward so we can get them the help and resources to rescue them from this horrific cycle.”

James Robert Smith
DOB: 11/25/1969
Charges:
-Money Structuring over $300 but less than $20,000
-Money Structuring over $20,000 but less than $100.000
-Money Structuring over $100,000 (X2)
-Money Laundering over $100,000 (X4)
-Conspiracy to commit Money Laundering
-Unlawful use of Two Way Communications Device
-Deriving Support from Proceeds of Prostitution
-Operating a Place for Lewdness, Assignation or Prostitution
-Rico Violation
-Rico Conspiracy

Nan Chen Smith
DOB:05/21/1980
Charges:
-Unlawful use of Two Way Communications Device
-Deriving Support from Proceeds of Prostitution
-Operating a Place for Lewdness, Assignation or Prostitution
-Rico Violation
-Rico Conspiracy

IaoKuan Batista
DOB: 01/05/1969
Charges:

  • MONEY STRUCTURING OVER $20,000 BUT LESS THAN $100,000
  • MONEY LAUNDERING OVER $100,000 (X2)
  • MONEY LAUNDERING OVER $20,000 BUT LESS THAN $100,000
  • DERIVING SUPPORT FROM PROCEEDS OF PROSTITUTION
  • OPERATING A PLACE FOR LEWDNESS, ASSIGNATION OR PROSTITUTION
  • RICO VIOLATION
  • RICO CONSPIRACY

Min Soon Rockwood
DOB: 03/21/1962
Charges:
-Deriving Support from Proceeds of Prostitution
-Operating a Place for Lewdness, Assignation or Prostitution
-Rico Violation
-Rico Conspiracy

Wei Cheng
DOB:12/21/1977
Charges:
-Money Laundering over $300 but less than $20,000
-Rico Conspiracy

Lin Wang
DOB:11/30/1984
Charges:
-Money Laundering over $300 but less than $20,000 (X2)
-Unlawful use of Two Way Communications Device
-Rico Conspiracy

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Tingbo Zhang
DOB: 01/08/1972
Charges:
-Money Laundering over $300 but less than $20,000
-Rico Conspiracy