Spokane law enforcement agencies said Monday, they are targeting Asian spa owners' finances to cause their business to go bankrupt.
The Airway Heights Police Department said the spas made a surprising amount of money. In fact, detectives said, so much cash traded hands under the guise of men getting massages, that spa owners couldn't launder the money fast enough.
"(They made) right around a hundred thousand dollars in cash, between all the different locations and owners. I believe six vehicles and at least one boat we are looking for," said Airway Heights Detective Kelly Justice.
Detectives said they also found a staggering amount of sex paraphernalia, specially designed furniture and gallons of lotion. That evidence will help them prove the crime of promoting prostitution. However, investigators said other crimes were being committed as well.
"The includes robbery. Any crimes that are committed in these businesses go unreported because they don't want the police there," said Justice.
When spa owners were booked into jail on July 10, they were given civil seizure notices that said they had 45 days to prepare a forfeiture hearing. If detectives can convince a hearing examiner that homes and storefronts were ill-gotten gain, police can seize the property and make it harder for the spas to resume their activities.
"This is a cash-driven business and if the they don't have cash, they're not going to reopen the doors. That's because you have to pay for electricity; you have to pay for all the items that were seized as evidence," said Justice.
If the civil seizure process is successful, the cash and the proceeds from the sale of forfeited property will be reinvested in local law enforcement.