SEBASTIAN – Complaints about massage therapists wanting to perform “sex acts” for money started in late August 2018 in Sebastian and Vero Beach.
Vero Beach Police Chief David Currey said that his department began receiving complaints about East Spa in Vero Beach. They launched an investigation, and several undercover officers confirmed the complaints. The owners of the of the East Spa also owned another massage parlor in Vero Beach, and the two parlors in Sebastian.
Lt. Timothy Wood of the Sebastian Police Department said they first learned about the spa at Riverview Shopping Plaza by the health department. Police then sent undercover officers in the business and found that the massage therapists were conducting prostitution.
Police said the businesses were performing human trafficking, sex trafficking, and labor trafficking.
Undercover police officers planted and utilized electronic surveillance devices inside and outside the massage parlors. “There were very little massages going on,” Currey said. “They weren’t going in there for massages.”
Currey also said that “very little protection was being used” during the sex acts. “Shame on the Johns,” he said.
The business owners were Lanyun Ma and Yongzhang Yan. Ma, who was here on an expired work visa, is the wife of Yan and manager. Yan ran the business side of things. Police said the women working at the spa were living inside the business.
“If this can happen in Indian River County, where else can it happen,” Sheriff Deryl Loar said during a news conference Thursday. Loar said that each spa most likely grossed over $1 million a year.
54 people have been arrested after visiting the massage parlor/spa at the Riverview Walk Shopping Plaza for prostitution. Police said some visited the spa more than once for sex.
Loar said more arrest warrants are being served this week. He is encouraging men to turn themselves in, or they will soon have a knock at their door.