HOUSTON (FOX 26) - “Shock. I thought they were legitimate,” said Marinell Mendoza. But Harris County Law enforcement says the massage business just a few doors down from her office in Northwest Harris County is anything but legit.
“I heard there were issues like that going on in Houston but I just didn't know they were so close,” she said.
After a lengthy investigation by multiple Harris County law enforcement agencies, a dozen massage parlors on or near FM 1960 were raided Wednesday.
“It doesn't surprise me they're all over 1960.” Ann Bradley gets her clothes cleaned next door to one. “It's just sad that people have to do that to make money and the young girls, just sad,” she said.
Fourteen arrests were made, but the challenge lies with identifying the victims. None of the women working in these parlors are U-S citizens. Many of their passports were taken away be their employers. The Harris County District Attorney calls it a classic sign of human trafficking.
“We are trying everything we can to shut down these businesses,” said Anderson.
All month long, undercover officers posed as customers and on multiple occasions were offered sexual services for a price.
“Unfortunately almost any direction you drive you'll see these kinds of businesses often legal but too often illegal,” said County Attorney Vince Ryan.
“It's very easy to go to a shopping strip center sign a lease put a few tables in there and then you're in business,” said Precinct One Constable Alan Rosen.
Not only the owners of the businesses, but also the property owners could face charges.
“If you're thinking about popping up at a massage parlor you might look forward to a visit,” said Sheriff Ron Hickman.
And with big events like the rodeo, Final 4 and the Super Bowl around the corner, raids like these will continue.
“The stings on ‘johns’ on the customers are going to go up the raids are going to continue and we're going to make Houston as hot as we possibly can so people will not engage in prostitution activities in our city,” said Anderson.
That's just what legitimate business owners want to hear.
“Well I hope they're gone forever because we're trying to operate in a professional way and we don't need neighbors like that,” said Marinell Mendoza.
The County Attorney will file lawsuits seeking injunctions to force these businesses to close for good.
The massage parlors raided:
Flushing Spa - 444 W FM 1960
A&B Massage - 4636 FM 1960
EZ Foot - 6105 W FM 1960
Magic Relax - 6105 W FM 1960
Skai Spa - 14243 Stuebner Airline Road, Ste. C
Healthy Therapy Massage - 1423 W FM 1960, Ste. B
Diamond Spa - 990 W FM 1960
Lily Spa - 840 W FM 1960
Hana Spa - 10415 Bammel N. Houston
Green Apple Hand & Foot Spa - 10658 Jones Road
LRJ Massage - 11902 Jones Road
Kang Xing Health Center - 6978 FM 1960, Ste. C