- Associated Press - Saturday, November 7, 2015

HOUSTON (AP) - Four people were arrested Friday for participating in a human trafficking ring that lured Chinese women into prostitution and confined them at several locations in the Houston area, authorities said.

Investigators in Montgomery County, north of Houston, said the women were shuttled to a dozen businesses and homes in the region as part of a large organized crime ring. They say a growing population in suburban Houston is bringing with it an increase in some crimes such as human trafficking.

“We want to crush the trade here in Montgomery County,” District Attorney Brett Ligon said at a news conference.

It’s believed the crime ring extends overseas and the women entered the country through cities like New York and Los Angeles and then were taken to Houston, according to the Houston Chronicle (http://bit.ly/1NWJQQe ).

“We are working with Homeland Security, trying to identify this group,” Montgomery County sheriff’s Lt. Philip Cash said. “We do believe it is a very large organized crime unit.”

Eight victims were found Thursday when authorities conducted a series of raids at the homes of the suspects and also at four separate businesses, most of which advertised themselves as spas. Some of the women have been in the country just weeks while others have been here for years.

Montgomery County prosecutor Tyler Dunman said victims lived in cramped quarters at some of the businesses and were told to remain inside.

The four suspects are facing charges that include trafficking of persons, and were being held Friday at the Montgomery County jail.

“Some people have a misguided notion that this is about sex,” Ligon said. “This is about money, this is about power.”

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Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com

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