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Two arrested, charged with human trafficking in Jessup

Two arrested, charged with human trafficking in Jessup
Li Yu, 41, left, and Zhongmei Zhang, 35, both of Flushing, New York. (Courtesy photos)

Howard County police on Tuesday announced the arrest of two people, a man and a woman, on two charges each of human trafficking and prostitution in Jessup.

Zhongmei Zhang, 35, and Li Yu, 41, both of Flushing, New York, were arrested Friday, according to court records, and do not have attorneys listed. Both are being held without bond in Howard County.

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Police on July 17 received a tip of “possible prostitution activity” at the Red Roof Inn in the 8000 block of Washington Boulevard in Jessup. Police investigated and served a search warrant on one of the motel rooms.

Police spokesman Seth Hoffman said investigators believe the prostitution and trafficking activity was happening in the motel since “early last week," but did not have information on “how long or where” it may have been occurring prior.

Yu and an adult female victim were found inside the room, while Zhang and another adult female victim were found outside the hotel, police said. Police said the victims are 27 and 35 years old.

Police refer victims to places such as HopeWorks where they can be helped with housing, treatment, transportation, and other services.

Police said they believe the suspects placed online ads, arranged prostitution appointments for the women and then kept all of the money.

Hoffman said in an email that Howard County police are focused on arresting traffickers and helping victims, though “detectives regularly monitor websites known to be used for prostitution to learn of activity in the county” and make arrests of those soliciting prostitution.

In May, Howard County Police charged a Fort Meade man with multiple counts of human trafficking and assault after allegedly trafficking a woman from Maryland to California and back.

Investigators are asking anyone who may have information about suspected human trafficking or prostitution to contact police at 410-313-STOP or HCPDcrimetips@howardcountymd.gov.

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