The Columbus City Attorney and Franklin County Sheriff announced their offices worked together to shut down a massage parlor that investigators say was a front for illegal sex acts.
A months-long investigation revealed a pattern of prostitution at Sunflower Asian Spa in a Hilliard area strip mall.
In a raid around 3 p.m. Wednesday, city and county agents evacuated the premises and boarding it up.
Representatives from Asian American Community Services were onsite to assist any of the workers who were in need of help.
“Human trafficking and prostitution are a real problem in our society, and I want to thank the Franklin County Sheriff’s office for working with us on this case,” said City Attorney Zach Klein. “Ohio is fourth in the nation for reported human trafficking cases and studies show that women trapped by sex trafficking have mortality rates 200 times greater than average, with the most common causes of death being homicide, suicide, and substance abuse.”
Detectives with the sheriff’s office began investigating the business last September after receiving information about potential prostitution and human trafficking occurring at the premises.
According to court documents, investigators obtained evidence that sexual conduct in exchange for money was occurring regularly at the parlor from September 26, 2018 through March of this year.
Patrons paid $60 upfront for an hour-long massage and were led to a back room. The patrons were then typically asked if they wanted a “soft, medium, or hard massage.”
Workers usually requested an additional $40 to perform illegal sex acts, with one individual stating that her “boss” keeps the $60 initial payment and she “only makes money from tips.”
“The detectives of our Special Investigations Unit work every day to help fight human trafficking and prostitution,” said Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin. “Once they began investigating this business, their thoroughness allowed us and City Attorney Klein’s office to shut this place down.”