Some massage parlors advertise illicit activities on paid websites
■ Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter
On Friday, Oct. 20, a representative from The Valley Chronicle was invited to ride along with a task force that included Hemet’s Code Enforcement Department, Hemet Police Department (HPD) members and other enforcement agencies that, due to the nature of their involvement, cannot be revealed at this time.
Lt. Glen Brock, HPD’s public information officer, introduced the newspaper representative to the group in a squad room at 8:30 a.m.
The morning’s target was a series of massage parlors in Hemet suspected of possible prostitution taking place on the premises, human trafficking and code violations. While no arrests were made regarding the alleged prostitution and sex trafficking, the inspected parlors received a total of 44 citations for code violations.
“Not only were there no arrests made for prostitution or human trafficking, there were no incidents of prostitution or evidence of human trafficking discovered during the inspections,” said Brock, after the inspections concluded.
The establishments entered, in order of raid, were as follows: Hemet Valley Massage Therapy, 540 N. San Jacinto St.; Grace Health Spa, 877 E. Florida Ave.; Best Choice Massage, 464 Palm Ave.; Super Relax Massage, 1690 W. Florida Ave.; and Spring Spa and Massage, 175 N. Cawston Ave.
Interestingly enough, the second target, June Lotus Spa, at 135 E. Stetson Ave. near State Street, was locked even though a bright neon “OPEN” sign was visible. A temporary “CLOSED” sign was taped to the door. Brock later clarified that the closed sign was a return time clock face “that is utilized by many businesses throughout the valley.”
Although the Chronicle’s reporter was not allowed inside any of these establishments beyond the lobby, he could hear detectives questioning the women inside. At one point an investigator was heard to ask a young woman, “Where are your clothes?”
According to Brock, no customers were inside the massage parlor while the code enforcement officers and HPD were inside questioning the workers.
Code violations included inadequate signage, unpermitted construction, and at least one massage parlor kept a washer and dryer on the premises, which is not allowed, according to officials. Construction without a permit also was cited. Code enforcement officials will follow up to ensure the violations are corrected.
While it was suspected that some of the women working in the massage parlors might be in the country illegally, that issue was not officially addressed. The people found to be in charge denied they were owners or managers, and denied any association with anything other than being on the premises.
The Valley Chronicle has been reporting about brothels disguised as massage parlors for more than two years, especially the now-closed Ai Spa on Carmalita Street and Florida Avenue, where a recently-retired water department employee died in February 2016. Many of the massage parlors inspected during this raid currently advertise on a website whose owners are being prosecuted by the state of California for advertising sex acts for sale at these establishments.
If you have any information about brothels in our valley, please contact the Hemet Police Department or contact the editor of this newspaper at email@example.com. We will continue to report on this story and provide updates when available.