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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 02/26/14
ILLEGAL OPERATIONS. Employees at the Washington Wellness Spa at Van Dyke and 27 Mile Road were arrested and arraigned on charges of prostitution. The Macomb County Sheriff's Office conducted undercover investigations before making the arrests on Feb. 13.
(Observer photo by Chris Gray)
Washington Twp spa
busted for prostitution
by CHRIS GRAYEmployees at a Washington Township spa were arrested on allegations of prostitution activity earlier this month.
Observer Staff Writer
The Macomb County Sheriff's Office detained two suspects at Washington Wellness Spa on Feb. 13 after undercover investigations revealed sex acts were taking place in the business.
The spa was located at Van Dyke and 27 Mile Road. Washington Township Supervisor Dan O'Leary said he was approached by a citizen who informed him that suspicious activity was going on at the spa.
"The vast majority of these massage organizations are truly legitimate businesses with medically trained personnel," he said. "It's unfortunate that you have something like this that creates a reputation problem for them."
Capt. Elizabeth Darga said members of the Special Enforcement Team (SET) conducted a month-long undercover investigation of the business, receiving propositions from employees and finding an advertisement on backpage.com. The ad featured a picture of a young Asian woman and listed services like Swedish, deep tissue and shiatsu massages.
"Once we had enough information and evidence to show they were running prostitution out of their business, we acted on it," Darga said.
Kyung Suk Moore, 57, and Oksun Hughes, 59, were arrested and charged with keeping a house of prostitution, a five-year felony; using a computer to commit a crime, a seven-year felony; and prostitution/accosting and soliciting, a 93-day misdemeanor.
They were arraigned on Feb. 14 at the 42-1 District Court, with bond set at $200,000 for each woman. Both were lodged at Macomb County Jail as of Feb. 21.
Darga said the sheriff's office is still seeking the arrest of a man associated with running the business.
The Department of Homeland Security and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) assisted the sheriff's office, as it wasn't determined if the women were legal U.S. citizens.
This is not the first massage establishment in the area to be busted for solicitation. In January 2008, the sheriff's office arrested two employees at Washington Spa, formerly located across from the Township Municipal Building on Van Dyke, for illegal prostitution activities.
"I would say it's a rarity," Darga said. "It's always a possibility, but we haven't done one of these in a while."
O'Leary said the township takes these types of cases seriously because prostitution activities not only degrade the community, but might have an element of human trafficking to them.
"I do not know if that is the case in this case, but in the TV version of this, the choice to become a prostitute is not always their choice," he said. "We have to take these seriously because there could truly be a violation of human rights."