Three women – one from each of three local massage parlors – was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of prostitution following a sting operation carried out by detectives assigned to confront the issue of human trafficking.
The massage parlor raids were carried out Tuesday afternoon by detectives from the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Taskforce joined by city of Santa Clarita code enforcers and investigators from the California Employment Development Department.
The massage parlor crackdown led enforcement officers to at least one massage parlor on Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country and another in Newhall, between Canyon Crest Drive and Meadowridge Drive. Officials did not reveal the location of the third parlor.
More than a dozen law enforcement officers including plain clothes detectives and uniformed deputies were seen Tuesday walking in and out of the massage business with city officials.
Two of the three prostitution suspects – one aged 53, the other 42 – were identified in arrest reports as residents of Monterey Park. Each of the three were arrested on suspicion of prostitution, a misdemeanor offence.
Detectives participating in the sting operation encountered no obstacles when the raids were made, Sgt. Jeff Walker of the LASD’s Human Trafficking Bureau told The Signal.
Asked Wednesday if Bureau detectives were concerned about the possibility massage therapists were the victims, forced into servitude, Walker said: “That’s what we’re looking into.”
The investigations, which included agents operating in an undercover capacity, were initiated in response to complaints from the community that commercial sex acts were being committed at some of the massage businesses, he said.
At each of the three locations deputies, posing as customers, were solicited by employees of the massage parlors to exchange money for sex acts.
During Tuesday’s operation, three adult females – one suspect from each location – were arrested for solicitation charges, Walker said in a news release issued Wednesday afternoon.
Inspectors from the city of Santa Clarita inspected the locations for building code violations.
Investigators from the State EDD reviewed the businesses for compliance with State employment regulations.
Task Force members checked the businesses for indicators related to either sex or labor trafficking.
The comprehensive investigation is ongoing.
During the operation, the joint forces team used a “decoy” to enter each massage business and, based on what the decoy found there, responded accordingly.
City code enforcement officials were helping LASD Major Crimes Bureau detectives in carrying out raids today on local massage parlors, confirmed city spokeswoman Carrie Lujan.
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