SPOKANE -- Authorities executed search warrants at several area massage parlors in attempt to crack down on prostitution Tuesday morning.
Officers raided eight massage parlors across Spokane County including the following:
Absolute Spa at 9315 E. Trent Ave
Asian Spa at 3130 N. Division
Far East Spa at 213 E. Sprague
Joe Jeans at 2712 N. Division
Montanas Spa at 7413 E. Trent
Oriental Spa North at 827 E. Francis
Oriental Spa South at 515 S. Maple
Starlite at 2829 N. Market
The search warrants were conducted based on a 12 to 14 month investigation into Prostitution, Promoting Prostitution, Money Laundering, Criminal Profiteering, and Controlled Substances.
Airway Heights Police Chief Lee Bennett said the investigation started when representatives at Northern Quest Casino contacted the Kalispel tribe about a prostitution problem there.
During the investigation, detectives put informants into the parlors. Those informants discovered that customers pay a door fee to get in. Once the door fee is paid, the price goes up depending on what kind of services the people pay for.
Investigators have not found massage equipment in the locations. They are still in the process of conducting search warrants and gathering evidence.
As of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, five parlor owners have been arrested. Police said other parlor owners are still being questioned, and there are some who they have not yet contacted.
200 to 250 women are believed to have cycled through the spas. Investigators did not find evidence of human trafficking and they do not believe any of the prostitutes are underage.
Bennett said they are going after the spa owners because that it who is profiting. They may also go after some managers. Right not, police do not plan to go after the prostitutes or johns.
Bennett said prostitution is a problem that affects the other community, and there are other crimes associated with it. One of the undercover officers was nearly robbed.
The spas are making $8,000 to $10,000 a month. One place had a sign-in book, but it is not known if the names in it are legit.
No one was hurt in the undercover operation.
Members Airway Heights Police, Kalispel Tribal Police, Washington State Gambling Commission, Homeland Security, US Border Patrol, United States Marshals, Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, Spokane Valley Police, Spokane Police, Liberty Lake Police and Cheney Police conducted the search warrants.