Saturday, July 30, 2005

Officials Move to Close Raided Massage Parlors

San Francisco public health officials are trying to revoke the operating permits of 10 massage parlors that were recently raided as part of Operation Gilded Cage, a federal investigation into suspected human trafficking.

The parlors, suspected of being brothels, had their doors shut after the raids on June 30 and July 1, but they have reopened.

Dr. Mitchell Katz, head of the city's Public Health Department, said his office had sent letters Wednesday notifying targeted massage parlors of the department's plans to revoke permits and of the city's intention to hold a hearing within weeks.

"We acted as soon as we received a completed FBI investigation -- that was on Monday afternoon,'' Katz said. "We used that information to draft revocation letters.''

In the meantime, Katz said, the parlors will remain open. "We do, in this country, have a standard of innocent until proven guilty,'' he said. "At this moment, we have yet to establish guilt.''

In the raid, 400 federal and local law officers arrested 27 people allegedly involved in running the parlors and bringing the women into the country illegally. Two more people are being sought.

The suspected brothels were described as part of a major Bay Area sex trafficking operation that used Korean women who came voluntarily or were duped into coming to this country.

Of those indicted, six remain in custody. Twenty-five of the suspected prostitutes working at the parlors are considered material witnesses and are being held, while the government is seeking to deport 53 women.

...for more, click the link above.

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