Vista cracks down on illegal massage parlors

VISTA — The writing may have been on the wall for at least one acupuncture business shut down after Sheriff’s investigators conducted a prostitution sting throughout Vista on June 3.
“Free Table Shower,” is scrawled across two lobby walls of the now-shuttered Bright Acupuncture. The business was tucked in the rear section of a building that houses the Vista Family Health Center on South Santa Fe Avenue. According to Internet sources, a table shower is the washing of a patron at a day spa, in part so attention can be paid to their genitals.
Bright Acupuncture was one of nine Asian day spas and acupuncture offices identified by the Sheriff’s Department as possible locations for prostitution, Deputy George Crysler said. Touch of Asian Day Spa, Seren Acu-Care, Melrose Spa, Vista Town Spa, JW Acupuncture, Li Jun Acupuncture I, Li Jun Acupuncture II and Vista Health Center were the other establishments named in the operation.
Crysler said the city’s licensing department helped spark the investigation a few months back after it recorded an unusually high number of business licenses being sought for day spas and acupuncture offices, as well as an increase in massage therapist permits being submitted.
Twenty-two females, mostly Chinese nationals, were arrested during the operation, Crysler said. Six of those women were booked into county jail on prostitution charges. The other 16 were cited for municipal code violations, which included illegal touching and being an unlicensed masseuse, Crysler said.
Crysler said at the time of the operation, the nine businesses didn’t have permits from the county’s Department of Health to conduct massages.
At least four of the establishments have closed, though Yong Jiang’s has not. Jiang, who owns Melrose Spa on Hacienda Drive near the Superior Courthouse, said he is running a clean and reputable business that doesn’t offer or promote sexual services.
Jiang was cited for five misdemeanor municipal code violations stemming from the Sheriff’s operation, including not displaying a massage establishment permit, having peep holes — which Jiang said were used to evaluate the performance of his employees — and food preparation in the facility. He said the police didn’t arrest any of his employees for any illegal sexual activity.
“They just want me closed,” Jiang said.
Crysler said the state’s statutes and city municipal codes are put into place to ensure the day spas and acupuncture offices are not participating in prostitution. “Because of the past history with massage parlors and the fact they are susceptible to running prostitution out of them, they make it a very stringent line you have to follow.”
Additionally, Crysler said there is an investigation into whether any of the owners had ties to one another, which could lead to more charges.

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