It may not be the first time Chen has been in trouble for this kind of activity.
According to an investigator with the state Department of Industrial Accidents, as well as Capt. Patrick Ambrose of the Danvers Police Department, she ran a similar operation near the Liberty Tree Mall that was shut down about two months ago.
She moved to the Andover location about six weeks ago.
Ambrose said Danvers has had “five or six of these over the last couple of years.”
He added, “They’re all over the place. We’re not unique.”
In the Danvers case, Ambrose said the Department of Industrial Accidents was called in because agents have the authority to shut down businesses involved in criminal activity.
Instead of prosecuting Chen, Danvers police simply shut the business down.
“You have to prove the prostitution,” he said. “You have to get somebody in there and have it offered as a service. Sometimes, time-wise and resource-wise, we use somebody like the Department of Industrial Accidents to come in and shut them down administratively. They usually just move along. Even if you do charge them with prostitution, they open up in another community.”
He said in a couple of cases, we “have had people shut down in one location and then pop up in another location across town.”
The bust is the first of its kind in Andover that police can remember, according to Lt. John Pathiakis, although the hotels along I-93 have always attracted prostitutes and their clients.
“That’s been a problem for years,” he said. “They set up meetings there, get a room, advertise on some of the sites and magazines.”
While illicit massage parlors may be new to Andover, they aren’t new in the Merrimack Valley.
In neighboring North Andover, for example, two women were arrested following a sting operation last month.