AP NEWS

Kalaheo man arrested in prostitution case

June 11, 2017 GMT

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A man was arrested at his Kalaheo home Friday in connection with an alleged prostitution ring operating out of massage parlors he owns in Florida.

Agents arrested six suspects for prostitution and money laundering last week, according to a news release from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The investigation showed the main suspects ran a prostitution ring out of 13 Asian massage parlors located from Naples to Tallahassee.

The massage parlors are owned by Robert Neil Jones, 67, of Naples, Florida, with co-owners or managers running each location. Jones was arrested by Kauai Police Department officers Friday at his Kalaheo home.

Jones is being held at Kauai Community Correctional Center while awaiting extradition to Florida, Kauai County officials said Saturday.

An additional 10 people were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering.

Agents began their investigation at the request of Collier County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office and Sarasota (Florida) Police Department after they suspected prostitution at massage parlors in their jurisdictions.

The investigation shows females of Chinese descent were offering sex acts in exchange for additional money after providing massages.

“We are focused on conducting interviews to determine whether human trafficking is part of this criminal enterprise,” said FDLE Ft. Myers Special Agent in Charge Shane Pollard. “The arrests are just the beginning of this investigation.”

Jones has been charged with:

w Conduct of or participation in an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity (1st degree felony);

w Use or investment of proceeds from pattern of racketeering activity (1st degree felony);

w Conspiracy to commit racketeering (1st degree felony);

w Money laundering (3rd degree felony).

Collier, Manatee, Sarasota and Leon County Sheriff’s offices, Sarasota and Cape Coral police departments, Customs and Border Protection, Homeland Security investigations and the Florida Department of Health assisted in the investigation.

“Thanks to this complex and multi-agency investigation, the criminal activity that these individuals were perpetrating is over,” said Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk. “Should the investigation determine that the women associated with this enterprise are the victims of human trafficking, we will work closely with our local social service community partners to ensure that they are provided with the resources they need to recover and move forward.”

The case will be prosecuted by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.

“We’re thankful to our partners at the FDLE and other area law enforcement agencies for partnering with us to stop these types of massage parlors from being in our communities,” said Chief Bernadette DiPino, Sarasota Police Department.

“The human trafficking that is happening as a result of these establishments is modern-day slavery,” DiPino continued. “But this is just the beginning. We’re going to continue to partner with the FDLE and local law enforcement agencies to make sure these types of businesses are closed and the men and women who are being abused get the help that they need.”

Anyone with information about the case is urged to contact FDLE’s Ft. Myers Regional Operations Center at (239) 278-7170.