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A federal court case involving the attempted deportation of an alleged bawdy house operator highlights how Richmond continues to be home to off-street prostitution. Chun Tao Zhang is a year-old Taiwanese citizen who is fighting allegations by immigration officials that she came to Canada on a work permit, set up through a marriage of convenience, and violated it by engaging in sex work in Richmond massage parlours and downtown condominiums.
A judicial review of her ordered deportation has been requested by Zhang and allegations have not been proven in court. The allegations are revealed in court documents detailing a sting operated by Canada Border Services Agency CBSA that found Zhang to be operating alongside a number of bawdy houses in the Lower Mainland. Other services came through massage parlours, also in Richmond and around the region. This prompted an investigation, including a visit to Zhang by immigration officials, who found her living at Elmbridge Way, away from her sponsor husband.
The two are alleged to have told border officials contradictory stories about their living arrangements. Zhang was then arrested in August by CBSA in a penthouse apartment at Westminster Highway after allegedly setting up sex services to be performed by herself for an undercover immigration officer. Another bawdy house location, where Zhang is alleged to have made appointments for sex workers, is at Saba Road.
Zhang is said to have been forthright with officials when questioned about her work. She said financial considerations were a factor as there was no work in the restaurant industry. The husband claimed to not know about the sex work, although this is disputed by CBSA.
This is not the first time off-street sex work has been found to occur at local massage parlours and in condominiums. She told the News her old business in Vancouver never experienced such a phenomenon. In the early s, a rash of businesses were fined and suspended by the City of Richmond. For instance, in , Water Club, owned by Paul Jin now being investigated by police for money laundering, according to Postmedia reports , used to run its body-rub business from the 11th and 12th floors of the Radisson Hotel on Cambie Road.