HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two people were arrested Friday afternoon after a raid on three massage parlors for possible links to prostitution and sex trafficking.
Officers served search warrants at Ace Spa, Golden Spa and Sun Spa, all located in a four-story building on South King Street near Kalakaua Avenue.
Those people arrested are among eight indicted earlier in the week for charges including criminal conspiracy to promote prostitution, promoting prostitution, prostitution, and ownership or operation of prohibited businesses, according to the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney.
“The illicit massage business, or commonly referred to as massage brothels or Asian massage in Hawaii, is an extremely lucrative business here," said Khara Jabola-Carolus, the executive director of the Hawaii State Commission on Women.
Jabola-Carolus estimates that there are about a 100 similar businesses in Hawaii. Many are believed to be fronts for sex trafficking.
The recent crackdown has been spearheaded by Dwight Nadamoto, who’s now the acting city prosecutor. He was briefly at the raids when they began.
He was also involved in other raids just last month and also last November.
Over the years, dozens of women have been arrested for prostitution in these raids. But lately, investigators have been going after the “madams” who bring the women over, often from Asia.
“This raises a lot of serious concerns about the well-being of women in the parlors and the level of coercion that may or may not be present there,” said Jabola-Carolus.
Two women were seen outside the Sun Spa, with another eight women from the other spas being questioned by officers.
They were also being assisted by sex trafficking victims’ advocates to see if they needed help. No other arrests were expected Friday night.