PORT ALLEN, LA (WAFB) - Two massage parlors were shut down Monday afternoon after investigators got word some workers may have been offering sexual favors for money. Both businesses were in strip malls in Port Allen.
The Casa Lomas Plaza strip mall on Highway 1 was covered with cops. State Police investigators were there to sweep Rainbow Therapy Spa; one of two massage parlors in West Baton Rouge Parish that have been the focus of an undercover investigation.
Three women were escorted out of the business. Sheriff Mike Cazes says he contacted state authorities after residents became concerned something illegal might be happening there.
"I was made aware of it four months ago that I had two massage parlors that were doing unethical operations in WBR parish," said Sheriff Cazes.
Rudy Aucoin, the owner of Casa Lomas Plaza, says he got wind of it and reported it immediately.
"We kind of heard through the grapevine that they had a website that was pretty bad, no telling what was going on," said Aucoin.
Investigators were also getting complaints about another massage parlor, Young's Therapy, on Lobdell Highway.
Inside were what appeared to be bedrooms outfitted with makeshift furniture, appliances and laptops. There is one massage table, located in a large shower area.
Undercover officers were sent in and reported they were offered sexual favors in exchange for money, but State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson says they also learned something more.
"They are forced to live here, from our investigation undercover, they never left here. They lived here they worked here. To me that's a form of slavery," said Edmonson.
The women were also advertised on Backpage; a website pimps use to place men and women for sale. The owners of the massage parlors were not present during the raids, but Colonel Edmonson says one of them has ties to similar operations in California.
"We want to find out if this is forced slavery, is it beyond prostitution. Is there any drug nexus to this? Is there a human trafficking slavery portion of it?" said Edmonson.
Colonel Edmonson says he is working with legislators to create stronger laws on massage parlors.
Five of the six arrested were charged with principal to prostitution by massage. They are 70-year-old Angel Weeks, 54-year-old Kyung Hee Kim, 53-year-old Han Ae Ja, 39-year-old Eun Hwa Lee, 50-year-old In Ja Kang. One was arrested for prostitution by massage, she has been identified as 52-year-old Barbara Kim.