MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Four Miami Beach massage parlors were forced to close down following an eight-month police investigation into alleged acts of prostitution and sex trafficking.
Officials said eight women were taken into custody.
“The fundamental charge is that men went in there for some sort of sexual activity for pay, so these are prostitution operations,” said Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates.
Miami Beach Police launched the investigation in January 2017 into the following businesses:
- Jee-Jee, 733 5th St.
- Lu Lu, 7441 Collins Ave.
- Shanghai, 1106 Normandy Drive
- Jade, 1020 71st St.
Search warrants were executed Friday evening and, according to police, the business licenses of each location were revoked by City Manager Jimmy Morales.
“Based on the gravity of these allegations, I believe it was imperative that these businesses cease operations immediately,” said Morales in a statement released by MBPD. “We will not tolerate any sort of illegal operations that present an actual threat to the quality of life and safety of our community.”
Oates said the investigation also centers on code enforcement, immigration violations as well as human trafficking. “And tonight we are evaluating the extent to which [those arrested] are involved in criminal activity and are themselves victims,” he said.
The parlors cannot reopen unless the City of Miami Beach reissues the licenses.
“I couldn’t be more happy and proud to know that these businesses are closed tonight, and to the extent that the women involved were victims of human trafficking, you know that we’re here to help,” said Miami Beach Commissioner John Elizabeth Alemán.
The warrants were executed with the assistance of the Florida Department of Health, Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, Miami Beach Code Enforcement, Sunny Isles Beach Police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Removal Operations.
“Having situations like this happen, it’s great because it puts a lot of pressure on these lowlife people who think they can just come in here and run these operations and not care about our community,” said neighborhood activist Michael DeFilippi.
The investigation remains ongoing and victims will receive both medical and social services.
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