4 more Tri-Cities massage shops closed for human trafficking allegations. 3rd raid this year
Authorities shut down six more Tri-Cities massage parlors following a series of searches Wednesday.
Women in four of the businesses were being trafficked, and two more were violating license requirements, Kennewick police said in a release.
Police had been receiving complaints about the businesses since the beginning of the year, said Commander Christian Walters. Working with the Department of Health, officers and state inspectors visited the businesses on Wednesday.
The businesses raided included Joy Spa, Shangri La Massage, Dream Spa, VIP Massage, Fragrant Oil Spa and Royal Massage.
Investigators did not find evidence of Joy Spa or Dream Spa selling sexual services, Walters said.
The businesses are mostly located along Clearwater Avenue, with another one on Kennewick Avenue and another on Union Place.
No arrests were made, and police said they are continuing to investigate.
Officers had help from Mirror Ministries, a faith-based nonprofit which helps sex trafficking survivors find help.
In all, they found nine women working at the businesses, and four of them received help through Mirror Ministries, said Executive Director Tricia MacFarlan.
In many of the cases, the women appeared to be living at the storefronts and had nowhere to go when the businesses were shut down, she said.
“It’s heartbreaking that they didn’t feel like there were any other options in the world,” MacFarlan said. “We want to make sure there are always other options available.”
Police did not say if the women were from the U.S. or from other countries.
MacFarlan was not surprised by the raids and said the operations tarnish legitimate massage businesses.
“It’s disheartening that there isn’t more uproar for these women from our community,” she said.
To find legitimate massage therapy centers, go to the Department of Health license search, bit.ly/DOHSearch.
This is the third search in recent months to turn up a suspected human trafficking operation in Tri-Cities.
Richland police announced on May 3 that they had executed a search warrant at Eastern Silk Spa at 1207 George Washington Way. They were investigating reports of possible prostitution.
The search linked the business to large-scale investigation in King County.
Two suspects who owned the business were arrested in Bellevue and Burien, police said.
In March, the owner of another Tri-Cities massage parlor was implicated in a similar raid in Washington state.
A Tacoma man suspected of sex trafficking was listed as the owner of as many as 13 massage parlors across the state, including four in Kennewick.
It was part of a 7-month investigation led by the Wenatchee-based Columbia River Drug Task Force.