SACRAMENTO, CA - One Sacramento and two Lodi massage parlors were being used as fronts in a three-state prostitution and money laundering enterprise, allege immigration and customs investigators.
The owners/operators of Healthy Living Nails and Spa, 3715 47th Avenue in Sacramento; Valley Spa, 321 North California Street, Lodi; and AAH Spa, 20 North Cherokee Lane, Lodi, were arrested on conspiracy to transport individuals for prostitution and conspiracy to engage in money laundering, said Lorie Dankers, spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security.
Washington state residents Tham Nguyen, 48, and Suong Tran, 51, taken into custody Thursday. Court documents show the pair owns the three California businesses as well as three similar enterprises in Washington and a legal brothel in Nevada.
Dankers said Nguyen and Tran were suspected of moving women from one business to another to work as prostitutes since 2007 and conspiring to conceal the source and amount of money coming into the businesses.
"We saw a police car pull up on the side of the street," said Susan Radar who saw the agents raid the Valley Spa in Lodi. "Then there were about three or four cars that zoomed into the parking lot and (the agents) all got out and ran into the building."
Radar owns the Chalkboard Cafe across the street. She and other nearby business owners claimed Lodi police officers have busted the spa before.
Radar believes activities at the spa have hurt her business and the neighborhood. "There are people that will avoid the area because of what's been going on," she said. "It is a family neighborhood. A lot of young people live in the neighborhood. There's a school right down the street. We get a lot of people that come with their kids in strollers and on their bikes to the cafe."
This time Radar hopes it closes for good. She said, "We'd just like to see the business closed down. The building is an eyesore. I think it's just something that needs to be closed down so we can bring the families back into the area."
Agents took one woman into custody at the Valley Spa but they didn't say if she will be charged with anything
The Lodi Police Department and Sacramento County sheriff's Department assisted in the investigation.