Saying that targeted massage parlors "exploit women," City Attorney Mike Feuer this week announced a crackdown against a "ring" of such businesses.
Prostitution enterprises allegedly posing as massage parlors? In Los Angeles? Say it ain't so.
The City Attorney's Office said in a statement that businesses at 5740 York Blvd. in Eagle Rock, 6630 N. Figueroa St. in Eagle Rock, 1037 N. Avalon Blvd. in Wilmington and 3214 De Witt Drive in North Hollywood are "alleged brothels and illegal massage parlors."
The location on York is near a nonprofit children’s art school and a church, city prosecutors said. Two other parlors, the one on Figueroa and the one on Avalon, are near churches, they said.
The office alleges that the businesses advertised "prostitution services" online.
During a search-warrant raid Jan. 7, "Officers recovered a used condom bin at one of the locations, and [they] seized approximately $80,000 in cash from the residences of the business operators," according to a City Attorney's statement.
City prosecutors unleashed a nuisance-abatement lawsuit against operators, named as Helen Haihong Huang, Mark Richard Vitatern and MHWI Intl, Inc. Two other defendants "disavow" having anything to do with the businesses, prosecutors said.
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Four other parlors run by "the same business operators" have already shut down following "numerous" prostitution arrests, the City Attorney's Office said.
"Huang ... was previously arrested on multiple occasions for prostitution at massage parlors and is alleged to function as the primary operator and pimp of the businesses," the office said in its statement.
If successful, the suit would ban the defendants from operating massage parlors in the city. It also seeks civil penalties.
"We allege these massage parlors are epicenters of illicit activity that exploits women and blights communities," Feuer said. "Today we are taking strong action to put a stop to it."