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Massage Parlor Locked Down Under Suspicion of Prostitution, Human Trafficking

Lake Spa advertises regularly on Backpage, an online classified site the National Association of Attorneys General says is the premier web site for human trafficking in the United States.

A temporary restraining order closed the Lake Spa, which authorities from the Fenton Police Department, Michigan State Police and other law enforcement agencies are investigating allegations of prostitution and human trafficking. Patch file photo
A temporary restraining order closed the Lake Spa, which authorities from the Fenton Police Department, Michigan State Police and other law enforcement agencies are investigating allegations of prostitution and human trafficking. Patch file photo

A Fenton massage parlor has been shuttered under a restraining order while authorities investigate whether it is involved in prostitution and human trafficking.

Fenton Police Chief Rick Aro launched a full investigation with the Michigan State Police and other law enforcement agencies after his department began receiving tips last fall about that Lake Spa was a front for prostitution and possible human trafficking, 1470 WFNT Radio is reporting.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton obtained a temporary restraining order closing the spa as a result of the preliminary investigation. The door to Lake Spa has been padlocked to prevent any further activity under Michigan’s nuisance abatement law.

Leyton said prostitution and human traffic will not be tolerated in Fenton and “these types of establishments will be enjoined from continuing their operations and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent allowed under the law,” according to the WFNT report.

According to a story on the Tri-County Times,  a “very real concern” of law enforcement is that the establishment is a front for human trafficking and that young girls are being brought to Fenton for prostitution and other sexual exploitation.

“Further investigation into this matter will continue and we will look at every possible angle to ensure that any form of human trafficking be stopped and those responsible be prosecuted,” Leyton said.

A search warrant executed on Dec. 5 led to the temporary restraining order, which Judge Judith Fullerton issued on Dec. 11. It prohibits anyone from entering the premises.

Fenton Police Lt. Jason Slater told the Tri-County Times that undercover officers from FANG – the Flint Area Narcotics Group – reported prostitution was taking place, but he can’t confirm if human trafficking is occurring.

“We don’t know yet,” Slater said.

Right now, it appears that Lake Spa is purely a prostitution operation, John Potbury, a special assistant prosecuting attorney in Genesee County, told the newspaper. But he said human trafficking is a serious problem in the area, and the fact that the Lake Spa reportedly employs young females with foreign names sent up a red flag.

“We have no hard evidence at this time though,” he said.

Lake Spa has an ad on the Backpage classified web site, where it claims  to offer Asian acupressure and Oriental pressure point and boasts the “best Asian relaxation and table shower.”

Nationally, Backpage has come under fire as a place where pimps and other purveyors of prostitution peddle their goods.

The New York Times said in a report last year that Backpage accounts for about 70 percent of the prostitution advertising among five web sites carrying such content and earns more than $22 million annually from those ads.

The National Association of Attorneys General said Backpage, owned by Village Voice Media, is the premier web site for human trafficking in the United States.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regards human trafficking as one of the most heinous crimes it investigates and says its akin to modern-day slavery. Victims who often pay to be illegally transported to the United States are forced into prostitution, involuntary labor and other forms to servitude to repay their entry into the country, according to the ICE.

Lake Spa is located at 1490 Torrey Road, a space leased by an Ohio resident, the Tri-County Times said.

Want Answers ! December 13, 2013 at 07:56 AM
Beth - let's look up and interview the City or Township that approved this business, check for records of permits, who signed off to allow this in Fenton. It's start with the local gov that have no clue on how to bring in business !
Tamara December 14, 2013 at 11:29 AM
Why is the web-site not closed down?
Dale Murrish December 14, 2013 at 11:58 AM
Sounds like State Representative Martin Howrylak's forum Monday night is timely. Hope many will attend. http://troy.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/howrylak-town-hall-will-focus-on-human-trafficking-issue
Bryan Bentley December 14, 2013 at 12:05 PM
Tamara, I just looked at backpage, and it appears to be a clone of Craigslist. There are many ads that have nothing to do with prostitution, which I guess gives them the appearance of legitimacy. I know that many agencies have gone after the seedier aspects of Craigslist, but so far Craigslist has survived. I would never recommend either site for even a legitimate transaction based on how many bad things that have happened. Obviously these sites operate with one foot on each side of the law, and I'm sure law enforcement agencies would love some legislation to stop this sort of thing from happening. At this point, all they can do is have task forces monitor the site and set up stings based on what they see. If they can make it dangerous enough for those doing business on the site, it will eventually lose business, and then the advertising will go away. State Representative Kurt Heise has been working tirelessly to help to stop the human trafficking tragedy, and I support him in this endeavor.
Pat Lozano December 14, 2013 at 12:14 PM
I agree Bryan, If we were to close down all forms of communications used for bad purpose we would have no TV, newspapers, websites, or any other form of advertising. And putting blame on city/township representatives will only cause them to prevent business growth out of fear of being blamed "if" a business latter turns out bad. I think it was done correctly, the police got tips they followed up with investigation and then action. Now our courts must also do their job. If there is a failure it is of any citizen who used or new about this activity and did not report it. That is were to place the blame.
Tamara December 14, 2013 at 12:22 PM
I know of Heise's work, as well as others. I am so glad people are paying more attention to this. I cannot imagine a life like what these girls are living. A lot of people like to focus on blacks and their history, but I feel like we need to collectively move on from that and focus our attention on things that are actually happening now, like real time slavery. There are women all over the world that are enslaved and it should not be happening. To me the real discrimination in this world is against women. Women are thought of to be about looks and as bed partners. Wow - hard to believe in this day, but it is true. Think about when a woman tries to run for office (like Palin and Clinton). It is all about what they are wearing, how they look, or why they are not staying home to care for their kids and hubby's. Even women in positions like Michele Obama and Princess Kate - what do we most often hear about? WHAT THEY ARE WEARING! Good grief - who cares?! So - anyway - back to sex trafficking - I am currently doing a gift-wrapping fundraiser at a local mall to raise money for Vista Maria in Dearborn Heights. They serve abused girls, usually in foster care, but have recently started helping girls rescued from sex trafficking. Good for them!
Timmy Turdburglar December 19, 2013 at 06:08 PM
Why go to a massage parlor? All you have to do is go to downtown Royal Oak, locate a floozy at one of the many bars, buy her a few drinks, and have your way with her. A massage parlor just seems too complicated.

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