City shuts down 9 massage parlors in Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst

Fifteen women arrested on prostitution-related charges

December 5, 2014 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Ocean Beauty Spa, at 7312 18th Ave., was one of nine locations raided by authorities on Thursday as part of the investigation into alleged prostitution activity. Eagle photo by Paula Katinas
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Acting on complaints from elected officials and local residents, police and investigators from Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson’s office swept into Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge on Thursday, raided nine massage parlors, arrested 15 women on prostitution-related charges, and padlocked the allegedly illicit businesses.

Thompson and Police Commissioner William Bratton, who announced the arrests on Thursday, said the massage parlors were fronts for prostitution.

“We conducted these raids and made these arrests because the good people of Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst are sick and tired of these dens of prostitution, masquerading as legitimate businesses, popping up in our communities,” Thompson said in a statement.

Search warrants were executed at nine locations, including two located directly across the street from each other on 18th Avenue, one of Bensonhurst’s busiest shopping strips. The suspects, all workers or managers of the massage parlors, were taken into custody on charges of prostitution or promoting prostitution. The massage parlors, which billed themselves as day spas, were then padlocked.

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Four of the locations – Fenny Beauty, at 6701 11th Ave.; Happy Beauty/Lyn Spa, at 7110 20th Ave.; On Hung Beauty Center, at 7303 18th Ave.; and Ocean Beauty Spa, 7312 18th Ave. – were shut down by the D.A.’s office.

Five day spas – Yan Yan Spa, at 7901B 17th Ave.; Josomodo Spa “Happy,” at 7401 New Utrecht Ave.; Yisn Jing Spa, at 7422 New Utrecht Ave.; A1 Bodywork, at 6920A 13th Ave.; Kabuki (E&B Spa), 8015 17th Ave. – were padlocked by the New York Police Department.

Thompson said that nine of the suspects were charged in criminal complaints with misdemeanor prostitution, two were charged with promoting prostitution, and 10 were charged with providing unlicensed massage services.

The two women charged with promoting prostitution were: Pan, Xiao-Ling, 48, of 190 York St. in Brooklyn, who was charged with promoting prostitution in the fourth degree and Han, Sun, 63, of 147-37 Elm Avenue, Queens, who was charged with promoting prostitution in the third degree.

Investigators are also looking into the possibility that many of the massage parlor employees who were arrested are actually the victims of human trafficking. The women were screened by NYPD Vice Enforcement and Victims Services counselors for indications of human trafficking, and will be evaluated for possible placement in programs, officials said.

“As a result of these arrests, we hope to address the issue of prostitution in these communities and the possibility that these individuals may be victims of human trafficking. The New York City Police Department, in partnership with the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, remains committed to improving the quality of life for residents and stopping those who profit from the exploitation of others,” Bratton stated.

The detectives and police officers conducting the raids were joined by the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, which includes inspectors from the Fire Department and the Department of Buildings. Two partial vacate orders were issued and inspectors cited a total of 71 building code violations and 20 fire code violations. The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board was also there and issued three stop-work orders for violations of workers’ compensation laws.

The investigation began in January with the District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Unit taking the lead in the probe following complaints made by neighborhood residents to Community Board 10, Councilmember Vincent Gentile and state Sen. Marty Golden.

Residents shared their suspicions that the businesses were fronts for prostitution and told officials that the spas blighted their neighborhoods.

Since February, NYPD Brooklyn South Narcotics undercover officers and detectives from the D.A. office had been going into the locations to investigate their operations.

“I commend District Attorney Ken Thompson, the NYPD and all the agencies involved in this operation. Today we are sending a very strong and simple message: we will not stand for illegal activities at illegitimate or unlicensed massage parlors. These establishments are an embarrassment to and a scourge on our community,” Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) stated.

Like Gentile, Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southwest Brooklyn) said he was pleased with the arrests. “I thank the Brooklyn District Attorney and his staff for their diligence and investigation so to root out this problem affecting our quality of life,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle.

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