According to Seattle Police Department (SPD), Undercover Vice/High Risk Victims Unit detectives began investigating Liu Wei‘s foot massage business — located at Rainier Avenue S. and S. Adam Street in Mount Baker — in June 2010, and quickly discovered that employees were offering more than just foot rubs.
“Between June and October 2010, detectives visited the business four times, where female employees offered them sex in exchange for cash,” wrote SPD spokesperson Jonah Spangenthal-Lee.
“Detectives then served a warrant on the massage parlor and seized $11,000 in cash at the business,” he added. “After detectives raided the Rainier massage parlor, it became clear that the women who worked there were paying most of the money they made through prostitution to the owner of the business.”
After arresting the shop’s owner, detectives took over the business for a day and waited for johns to come in. While seven people came in, only one appeared interested in a legitimate foot massage. Detectives released that person, but arrested six others after they offered a female undercover detective money for sex.
According to Vice/High-Risk Victims Unit Lieutenant Ken Hicks, SPD practices a “victim-centered approach,” recognizing that those involved in prostitution are often recruited into the sex trade through fraud, coercion, or force.
“We’re not just trying to get the girls doing the massages,” says Hicks. “It’s the patrons, the supply and demand, both sides of the house.”