TOPEKA (KSNT) – Police and deputies closed in Wednesday on six massage parlors and spas in a human trafficking sting that saw multiple arrests, according to the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office.
The sting was the result of a group of Kansas law enforcement agencies teaming up for several criminal investigations, some going back over a year ago. The group, known as the Kaw Valley Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, said it took several suspects into custody and found multiple victims, but did not identify any of them. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay told KSNT News about some of the offenses law enforcement arrested the suspects on, but said his office would make the decision on which charges they would file in court.
“While several suspects were arrested for various offenses including ‘promoting the sale of sexual relations’ and various conspiracy crimes, my office is not bound by the arrest decision,” Kagay said. “We will review all available evidence and charge any appropriate crimes, including crimes related to human or labor trafficking.”
The KVAHTTF includes the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Kagay’s office, Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office and Topeka Police Department. Together with the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations, they served multiple search warrants at the following businesses:
- Oriental Health Spa, located at 2611 SW 21st St.
- Healing Massage, located at 4209 SW 21st St.
- Moon Spa, located at 3124 SW 29th St.
- Rising Sun Asian Massage Spa, located at 5123 SW 29th St.
- Healing Star Massage, located at 5501 SW 29th St.
- Rainbow Massage, located at 5219 SW 7th St.
As for what will happen to the victims of alleged human trafficking authorities said they found, Kagay said victim service providers like the YWCA Northeast were at the scene during the sting.
“Through these providers there were a wide array of services available to any victims that were identified,” Kagay said.
The investigation into all six businesses is ongoing, according to the sheriff’s office. It asked anyone with more information to call the sheriff’s Human Trafficking Hotline at 885-251-4TIP.
This is the second human trafficking sting conducted in the area in two months. The previous sting saw three arrests, with the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office saying two of them tried to prey on underage children online. In 2018, federal agents also conducted a sting on a downtown Topeka massage parlor. It and another spa in Salina, owned by the same people, were accused of being fronts for prostitution.
The district attorney also gave KSNT News his perspective on human trafficking in Kansas.
“The common perception is that human trafficking is an increasing problem throughout Kansas, the United States, and the rest of the world. However, while the problem may be growing, I strongly believe the problem has always been present…we are just now starting to reveal the problem through increased enforcement efforts.”Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay