Human trafficking investigation underway at Tampa spa - WFLA News Channel 8

Human trafficking investigation underway at Tampa spa

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Tampa detectives are trying to find out if three employees of a massage spa on Henderson Boulevard are victims of human trafficking.

An anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers last October led investigators to the Ocean Health Spa.  On two occasions, undercover officers say employees offered to perform sex acts for money.  Later, a Health Department inspection discovered multiple mattresses and personal belongings in a back room. 

"As the Health Department worker came in the front door, a number of females ran out the back," said Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor.  "During that inspection, they found that there were mattresses, clothing … a great deal of food inside this location indicating that people were actually residing inside of the business."

Today, Tampa Police, along with the FBI and the Clearwater Human Trafficking Task Force searched the spa.  They detained three women, two of whom don't speak English, and are being interviewed by a Korean interpreter.  Tampa police say it appears at least one of the women has a legitimate massage license.

There are adult websites that mention the Ocean Health Spa, and numerous reviews from customers who talk about exchanging money for sexual services.  Chief Castor says no charges have been filed at this point, but they're investigating to see if the women working here were victims of human trafficking.

"Human trafficking is the modern day form of slavery," said Castor.  "These women and young girls are promised a better life, and are brought to this country or recruited within the country, and then put into a life of servitude quite often involving prostitution."


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