“Sexual noises” pouring out of a San Diego massage parlor that disturbed nearby church services helped launch a police sting operation that uncovered a sex-for-pay operation in the SoCal city, police revealed last week.
“The San Diego Police Department takes neighborhood complaints of this nature very seriously,” Police Chief Nisleit said in a press release last week. “Our Vice Unit’s thorough investigation into the operation at businesses just like Ocean Spa bring peace and civility back to San Diego neighborhoods. We are grateful for the collaboration with the City Attorney to eliminate this type of criminal conduct in our communities.”
Police said they fielded numerous complaints from neighboring business owners and residents of the Ocean Spa Massage Parlor, and soon launched an operation at the location. Complaints ranged from “sexual noises” disturbing a church service to locals spotting people having sex in cars, according to police. A youth Bible study group was previously located next to the parlor, according to CBS8.
“Neighboring businesses complained the site was the source of foot traffic at odd hours, people having intercourse in parked cars and sexual noises loud enough to disrupt a nearby church service. After receiving numerous community complaints regarding illicit sexual activities at Ocean Spa, including criminal, nuisance and lewd activities, SDPD’s Vice Unit began an extensive and thorough investigation into these complaints,” San Diego police reported.
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Police devoted more than 125 hours last year investigating the massage parlor, which ultimately led to at least four instances where undercover cops were offered sex by employees. Police additionally uncovered at least 1,270 online ads for sex at the parlor over the last five years.
Four people were arrested for prostitution, while the city is taking legal action to shut the parlor down, including the City Attorney’s Office seeking more than $100,000 in civil penalties and reimbursement for attorney fees and law enforcement costs.
“The owners of Ocean Spa have been masquerading as a legitimate business for far too long,” City Attorney Mara Elliott said in the press release. “Ocean Spa is a sex shop – not a massage parlor – and it has no place in our community or anywhere else. We look forward to holding these perpetrators accountable and to restoring peace in this complex.”
San Diego and the surrounding areas have long struggled with prostitution issues, though locals and other Californians argue a relatively new law has exacerbated the problem.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 357 in July 2022, which repealed a previous law that banned loitering with the intent to engage in prostitution. The bill was championed as one that would help protect transgender women from being targeted by police.
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“The author brought forth this legislation because the crime of loitering has disproportionately impacted Black and brown women and members of the LGBTQ community,” the governor said when signing the bill into law.
“To be clear, this bill does not legalize prostitution. It simply revokes provisions of the law that have led to disproportionate harassment of women and transgender adults. While I agree with the author’s intent, and I am signing this legislation, we must be cautious about its implementation. My administration will monitor crime and prosecution trends for any possible unintended consequences and will act to mitigate any such impacts.”
The law took effect in January of last year, which business owners and local leaders have argued emboldened prostitutes and pimps to prowl city streets for johns with few repercussions.
A local San Diego business owner who spoke to Fox News Digital under the condition of anonymity following the massage parlor bust said though prostitution and massage parlors offering sex has “always been pretty common,” SB 357 emboldened pimps and prostitutes. The business owner is not located directly near the massage parlor, but about 20 minutes away where prostitutes brazenly walk the streets in skimpy outfits looking for johns.
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“It’s always been pretty common with massage parlors to offer more than massages,” the business owner said, “but with [SB] 357 the whole industry is emboldened because they know nothing will happen.”
Sex trafficking has also increased due to the law, the business owner argued.
“Now that we’re starting the second year with SB 357 in place, the prostitution has steadily increased, pimps know they can flood the streets with more girls, and with the busiest boarder crossing here in San Diego, sex trafficking is out of control.”
Meanwhile, prostitutes are becoming more “aggressive,” the business owner said, pointing to how the women will go into businesses and yell at employees.
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“‘I’ll call my pimp and he’ll come take care of this,'” the prostitutes threaten business owners, according to the San Diego proprietor.
“Residents will try to park in the street parking stall where a prostitute is standing, and she refuses to move and [curses] at the driver,” the business owner continued. “When a john has stopped in the middle of the street to make a deal and backs up traffic, the cars behind will honk their horn so the prostitute will walk over yelling and hit the car or window.”
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Other areas of California have also reported repeated instances of prostitutes walking the streets in skimpy outfits in broad daylight, including in Oakland where pimps reportedly stationed prostitutes outside a Catholic grade school last year, while a road in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District was lined with prostitutes and pimps last winter.