McLennan County, Texas (FOX 44) – Human trafficking investigators with the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office reached out to California to arrest a 31-year-old man accused of promoting illicit massage businesses suspected of human trafficking by placing online ads throughout the country.
Xikai Zhang was arrested in California and brought back to the McLennan County Jail on a charge of aggravated promotion of prostitution, a first degree felony.
His bond had not been set as of midday Thursday.
An arrest affidavit stated that the investigation began in June 2021 when investigators spotted an ad connected to Waco on a website known for human trafficking and prostitution.
By tracing the I.P. addresses connected with the ads, it was determined that the account used had been posting advertisements for sex ads at 21 illicit massage businesses in multiple locations in Texas and in a total of ten states.
The origin of the ads was traced to commercial address in Monterey Park, California and to Zhang whose residence was in San Bernadino County.
Cell phone accounts linked to the operation were also traced to Zhang according the arrest affidavit.
A search warrant was executed at Zhang’s home with the help of the Bernadino County Sheriff’s Office and Homeland Security.
The affidavit stated that during an interview with Zhang, he confirmed he was the one posting advertisements for the massage parlors on websites known for human trafficking.
The affidavit also stated that during the interview that Zhang indicated that he is paid by massage parlors to promote their businesses, which was confirmed by checks from those parlors within his residence.
However during the interview Zhang claimed he does not engage in human trafficking himself, he simply promotes their businesses.
The affidavit stated because Zhang posted sexual advertisements and received compensation investigators were seeking a warrant against him for the offense of aggravated promotion of prostitution.