Local business owners say they have seen girls as young as 11 wearing lingerie on the spa's porch
4:20 PM, Mar 21, 2013
5:58 PM, Mar 21, 2013
TAMPA - Tampa police say an anonymous tip led them to a South Tampa spa where they found evidence of prostitution and human trafficking.
Police say they were tipped off about young girls seen around Ocean Spa Massage, 3631 Henderson Boulevard in October, 2012.
Following the tip, undercover officers went in and, they say, found evidence of prostitution on two occasions. On Thursday, they executed a search warrant for human trafficking.
Inspectors from the health department also came to the spa. Police say inspectors found mattresses, refrigerators full of food and clothing.
"All of us in this little strip center and across the way have always known that this is a form of prostitution," explained Katherine Cusmano, who works at a clothing store adjacent to the spa. "We all call it as we all know the happy ending spa."
Cusmano said she has seen girls as young as 11 hanging out on the spa's back porch wearing lingerie.
Police Chief Jane Castor was not able to say how many girls or women were living at the spa, or if any of them were engaged in prostitution.
Three women have been detained inside the spa. According to Castor, all of those women are adults and two of them are Korean. The two Korean women are speaking with an interpreter but are not providing police with information, Castor said. At least one of the women has a massage license.
"This is not a legitimate business," explained Castor.