Attorney’s Office: City shuts down alleged human trafficking operation at massage parlor

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force shut down a north side massage parlor Friday morning. 

Investigators say the East Wind Massage parlor at 6815 Flags Center Drive was a front for prostitution.

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein obtained a court order to shut the business down under the state’s nuisance abatement law.

Klein’s office and the task force began investigating the business last year after receiving complaints about potential prostitution and human trafficking. 

“That investigation revealed that, in fact, there was sex being sold in this particular business,” said Columbus Police Sgt Mark Rapp.

Other business owners in the same strip mall near Cleveland Ave. and Schrock Rd say the massage parlor had been in operation for about a year. 

Klein says the action today is part of a larger effort targeting massage parlors across the city.

“We’ve actually sent 20 letters to various massage parlors across the city, 10 of which have already boarded up voluntarily,” Klein said. “This was a place that would not heed our warnings and so we had to take the next step and shut it down.”

Detectives found one woman and two customers inside the business this morning. Sgt. Rapp says victims of human trafficking are often foreign nationals who are more vulnerable because of a language barrier.

“That barrier creates an opportunity for people who are trafficking these women to exploit them inside businesses like these.”

Interpreters and victim advocates embedded with the task force were on hand Friday to provide support to the woman found inside.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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