Human trafficking: Slaves of the sex trade
Three massage parlors in Atascadero are under investigation for allegedly offering sexual acts for money and one person is facing charges for prostitution following an undercover human-trafficking sting, the Atascadero Police Department said Thursday.
Over the past several months, the agency has partnered with the San Luis Obispo Police Department and the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office’s Human Trafficking Task Force to conduct code enforcement compliance checks and undercover operations at numerous massage parlors in Atascadero, the release said.
On Wednesday, Atascadero police and the District Attorney’s Office’s Bureau of Investigation served search warrants at three businesses located in the 7000 to 8000 blocks of El Camino Real, according to the release.
Qin Guifang, 39, of Monterey Park, Calif. was arrested on suspicion of an outstanding warrant and of prostitution; those charges have been forwarded for consideration to the District Attorney’s Office. The businesses under investigation were Phoenix Massage, Zen Massage, and Happy Day Massage.
Two locations were cited for labor and insurance code violations, police said, and city officials yellow-tagged one business — allowing limited use for repairs only — due to building code violations.
The investigation was “in response to complaints of unlawful business practices, including suspected prostitution and possible human trafficking,” the release said. It revealed “indicators of human trafficking, which could not yet be confirmed,” the release said.
“Due to the nature of the investigation and the alleged acts of prostitution, it was believed that human trafficking could be involved,” the release said. “Considering this, the Atascadero Police Department requested the assistance of an advocate from the San Luis Obispo County Victim/Witness Office during the operation to provide services such as counseling and emergency housing to any identified victims of human trafficking.”