On June 24, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation reached a settlement agreement to close seven massage centers and revoke Hsin Wei Chen’s massage therapist license for suspected human trafficking, per a news release.

On May 30, the TDLR ordered an emergency six-month closure of the northwest Houston massage center Hsin Wei Chen and Foot Reflexology Star. This was the first emergency closure ordered by the department under the authority of House Bill 3579, which went into effect in September.

The details

During a recent inspection, officers noted reasonable cause to suspect human trafficking at the establishment located at 10801 Spring Cypress Road, Ste. 12, Houston. The owner had been involved in previous cases with the TDLR, officials said. Any evidence of suspected human trafficking has not been shared with the public.

The establishment owner, Chen, signed a settlement agreement with the TDLR, which revoked his license to be a massage therapist and the establishment licenses of seven other massage centers.

“This emergency closure and the resulting settlement order should be a signal to human traffickers that we now have the tools to root out these destructive crimes against vulnerable people,” TDLR Executive Director Courtney Arbour said in the release.

The settlement agreement stipulates Chen cannot work as a massage therapist or own and operate a massage center for the remainder of his life. If the settlement agreement is breached, then the TDLR can assess additional penalties, according to the news release.

Here is the list of the massage centers closing:
  • Foot Reflexology Star, 10801 Spring Cypress Road, Ste. 12, Houston
  • Sunny Foot Massage, 10950 FM 1960 W., Ste. B, Houston
  • L&P Massage LLC, 2808 Hwy. 6 S., Ste. IA, Houston
  • A Reflexology Massage LLC, 2570 I-10 E., Beaumont
  • Heavenly Massage, 12989 Bellaire Blvd., Ste. 7A, Houston
  • Ivy Massage, 1780 N. Major Drive, Beaumont
  • Ly Massage, 17802 W. Little York Road, Ste. D, Houston
The context

HB 3579 authored by state Rep. Ben Bumgarner, R-Flower Mound, authorizes the TDLR’s executive director to suspend operations of any massage establishment if law enforcement or the TDLR suspect any signs of human trafficking at the establishment.

Those who suspect human trafficking at a TDLR-regulated business can file a complaint here. In cases of suspected human trafficking, contact the National Hotline for Human Trafficking at 1-888-373-7888.