Crackdown on Fresno massage parlors offering sex

FRESNO, Calif.

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For weeks Action News has been looking into the skyrocketing business and we discovered some of these massage parlors are offering more than back rubs. Fresno Police found quite a few are storefronts for prostitution.

Sontaya: "Tina, do you always offer sex to your customers?"

Tina: "No, no."

Sontaya: "Why did you today?

Replies: "I'm not."

Sontaya: "You didn't offer to have sex?"

Tina: "I'm not."

Police know this woman as /*Buachan Hatfield*/, but her customers know her as Tina. And Tina is one of a growing number of Valley masseuses who police say are providing more than a massage.

Although Tina won't admit to the crimes -- she doesn't need to because her last client was an undercover Fresno Police officer.

The Fresno Police vice unit received many complaints about a parlor in Northeast Fresno on Maple and Behymer. And the intel was very accurate.

An undercover officer said, "The minute she came out there was a lot of hugs. Huggy, huggy, huggy, like we had known each other for a long time."

The detective paid $40.00 for a half hour massage, even he was surprised that it only took three minutes for the setting to go from relaxing to criminal.

An undercover officer said, "Then I had gone ahead and disrobed and covered myself with a towel and she came back in and next thing I know, she had just ripped the towel right off and darn near laid on me with her clothes on and very, very friendly."

Seconds later, we listened as Tina asked him if he wanted any sex acts. Once the service and price were agreed upon, awaiting officers were given a signal to make the bust. The scenario went down just as detectives anticipated.

Curt Chastain, Fresno Police Department said, "We had received some tips and leads through our hotline that there was suspected prostitution going on here that specifically the masseuses here gave extras and you could have sex and they were not shy about offering that. Today we come here to see if those complaints were true and they were."

In fact, this wasn't the only sex sting bust at this parlor. Just moments before Tina was arrested, another detective stopped in same massage parlor. At the end of his 30 minute massage the detective says he was offered a sexual favor for $40.00. But, when Action News asked the masseuse about it, she also denied offering anything more than a massage.

Masseuse: "I didn't get a ticket, so get up out of my face, are you serious?"

Sontaya: "You weren't cited today by police?"

Masseuse: "Does it matter?"

Sontaya: "All I said was are you offering extras with massages?"

Masseuse: "That's not true."

Action News went to a parlor on Blackstone near Shaw that was the scene of another police sex sting last week. The owner denies her business is a front for prostitution. She even invited us in to show us the V.I.P. Room reserved for top customers.

Fresno Police say keeping up with massage parlor licenses and permits is an overwhelming task. Five officers must regulate more than 100 parlors, hundreds of masseuses and follow up on all the tips they receive on a weekly basis.

An undercover officer said, "Often times we get complaints from people that have gone in for a legitimate massage and were offered some type of sex act and a lot of times that's how we get tipped off."

The police raid put Maple Massage out of business. The business had been with operating with an expired license, and at least one masseuse didn't have any permit at all.

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