Today in Spokane, several law enforcement agencies participated in a raid of eight Asian spa/massage parlors that were suspected of running a prostitution ring. Officials also raided private residences as well. Several arrests were made.
All of this happened around noon today when the raids were carried out simultaneously so details are still coming out but I couldn’t help but feel intrigued by such a bust. Asian spa/massage parlors are notorious across the country for not really offering their publically advertised services but rather sex. I have watched a couple of great investigations conducted by Dateline in other cities where these places are exposed but to see it occur in my hometown really grabbed my attention.
With the Airway Heights Police Department leading the investigation, officials worked on this case for fourteen months. The investigation included several officers going undercover as johns at Northern Quest Casino (a meeting place for prostitutes in the Spokane area), arresting the prostitutes, and then striking a deal with them to become informants in the investigation. The arrested individuals were able to give law enforcement an inside look into what was going on inside the walls of these Asian spas. I love this stuff. I have always had an interest and appreciation for police/detectives, especially the ones who devote most of their time to the vice unit. The fact that this investigation was so planned out and coordinated with precision makes this a pretty cool story.
Some interesting (and by interesting I mean mostly sad) information did come out immediately after the raids. Every single establishment that operated as an “Asian spa/massage parlor” in the Spokane area (8 total) was implicated in the sting. For all the legitimate Asian spas out there in the country, this has to serve as a slap in the face. A very unsavory stereotype of these businesses is picking up steam each day. In many of the establishments raided today, not even one massage table could be found. Incredibly, the owners didn’t even bother to make the smallest effort in trying to give off the appearance that they were practicing what their storefronts claimed. Officials estimate that 200-250 women have been involved in this operation. Wow. This was not some small scale crackdown. This ring was established and seemingly very profitable.
I wonder if the area agencies brought in some outside source (such as a Dateline type outfit) to help document this investigation. Personally, I will be following this story as the gritty details start to really unfold. I would watch with interest any in-depth report or coverage that a national media outlet might produce. I want to see deals made, I want to see the layouts of these parlors, I want to see what the owners look like, I want to see what the girls look like, I want to see what the johns look like, I want to hear monetary figures, I want to know about the culture, I want to know everything I possibly can. I know this can sound creepy or weird to some but under all of the disgust I have for these dirty brothels and the people who run them, I just can’t look away.
What a victory for law enforcement agencies in Spokane today. Yes, everyone is innocent until proven guilty but judging by the length of this investigation, the informants, and the early numbers on people impacted, it seems like the city got a whole lot better off this afternoon. Time to watch the aftermath. Don’t Blink.