HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The arrest of a prostitute in January helped authorities build the case against a prostitution business running out of a Honolulu "relaxation spa," city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro said Thursday.
Three people were arrested in a raid Wednesday at GoGo Spa on South King Street. Rickey Shankles, 52, Katherine "Lulu" Luo, 54, Katchina "Leilani" Moore, 42, were charged with unlawful ownership or operation of a business, a felony.
Sources said the three were using undocumented workers as prostitutes at the business.
City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro said at a news conference Thursday that an arrest back in January launched the investigation.
"A prostitute was arrested and she cooperated and decided to give us information about what was going on at GoGo Spa," he said.
Kaneshiro also showed pictures of some of the items recovered in the business. They include restraints, condoms and whips.
In addition to police, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement played a significant role in the case.
"The defendants in this case, likely used immigration fraud to bring women to Honolulu to work in these establishments," said Joanna Ip, Homeland Security Investigations special agent in charge.
The three could face federal charges in the case, including human trafficking.
Merchants said they suspected illegal activity at the location years ago.
"I'm surprised actually that it took this long," said one business owner, who moved because the location would deter customers from visiting her bakery.
"I've been in this building for over seven years and it's not like it's not apparent … with all the black windows, the cash machines, by the men I would see coming in and out all hours at night."
She added, "When we would have customers come to us ... they would all go, 'Do you know what's down here in your building?' All the time. They would say, 'you gotta keep your door lock, keep safe,'" she said.
On its website, GoGo Spa said it was established in 2013.
"We are not the typical spa house where the rooms are outdated and dark," the website says.
Business owners nearby, meanwhile, said they hope the arrests signal a crackdown on other illegal "spas" on Oahu.