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.”
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.