Fresno massage parlor shutdown after tips about prostitution

FRESNO, Calif.

For at least three years nearby business owners believed the Spring Day Spa Massage wasn't really offering their all male clientele what they advertised for 40 dollars an hour.

"Mostly 25 to 45 years old, that was the majority and then you would have that segment of the older guys 60s- 70s," said Paul Hall with All Care Equipment and Supplies.

Fresno police and a joint task force raided the space after getting tips the women who work there were being forced into prostitution.

"We have gotten complaints from customers themselves who have come here and believed there are underage workers in here," said Sgt. Curtis Chastain. He added, "One customer told us that they heard from their son that kids were talking about this as a place they could lose their virginity at."

Detectives say about 15 women who are all from China were brought to Fresno to work there. Some hardly spoke any English. Police are now going after their employer who they have identified as 48 year-old Ren Yuqiong.

"One employee told us that for the whole last month working here she was only allowed two days off," added Chastain.

Investigators say Yuquiong housed all the women who had to pay her rent at this apartment. In the past similar suspects were charged with prostitution. But police are now slapping them with high fines and labor law violations. In this case, Yuqiong could have to shell out $75,000 - $100,000.

Chastain explained, "What we are going to try new with the rest of the parlors that come under scrutiny is to enforce those financial laws and hit them in the pocket book."

Advocates for women forced into sex trafficking say this new strategy hurts the abuser and helps the victim.

"I think it's a fantastic approach because just popping them for prostitution charges is re-victimizing the actual victims. Going after the business owners is where we need to start," said Ronna Bright with Fresno EOC's Central Valley Against Human Trafficking.

Investigators say the goal of slapping these business owners with such high fines is that the amount they have to shell out is so costly may cause them to close their doors permanently.

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