San Jose police seek to curb illegal activity at massage parlors

SAN JOSE (KTVU) -- San Jose city officials have made it a priority to crack down on illegal activity inside the massage parlors that dot the city's landscape. That won't be an easy task considering there are 300 such places currently operating within city limits.
 
But some residents are helping in this effort. 
 
Since a story first aired on KTVU about the city’s effort, San Jose police officials have reported an increase in the number of tips from city residents about parlors that are suspected of violating the law.
 
KTVU recently accompanied San Jose police as they worked to root out illegal behavior.
 
Officers from the department’s Special Investigations Unit broke through the locked doors of Clinic Health Spa, also known as American Spa, last Friday night. Inside the facility, located in the 1200 block of south First Street near downtown, the officers found tell-tale signs of illicit activity.
 
“Everything looks pretty normal on the table,” Said police Lt. Mike Sullivan “But this is something you can’t have . . . condoms in a massage parlor is an absolute no-no.”


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The officers also found other items in the facility that raised red flags, including showers, futons and an ATM machine. During the sting, police discovered that Clinic Health Spa did not have a business license or licensed massage therapists.

 

 
And a  31-year-old woman was cited after police said she offered more than a massage to their undercover officers. The officers said the female suspect would’ve received $100 and the parlor would’ve taken a $40 cut.
 
“It basically comes down to money,” Sullivan said. “You have a land owner who wants to get their rent; you have a business owner who wants to make money; and you have girls inside.”
 
San Jose police have identified 300 parlors, but it isn't clear which are engaging in questionable behavior. Many of the centers are hidden in neighborhoods and dot busy street corridors within the city.
 
“This city is big and we are spread out,” Lt. Sullivan said. “We are a sprawling big city (and) not condensed like San Francisco. Maybe they feel safe” operating here.
 
Later in the evening, undercover officers descended on Blue Ocean Spa, located in the 2600 block of Union Avenue on the western edge of the city. Police cited a 40-year-old woman, at Blue Spa for prostitution.
 
Investigators say one challenge to eradicating such businesses is the tedious process to find all the parties involved in the illegal operation.
 
That drawn out process becomes even lengthier as city attorneys weigh whether to charge those involved.  
 
San Jose police say they hope their ramped up activity will deter new parlors from locating within the city. 
 
“If we can’t do it, we will work with the land owner,” Sullivan said. “If the land owner is not going to work with us, we will get the city attorney’s office involved. They have a huge hammer with administrative fines.”
 
By KTVU reporter Azenith Smith. 
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