A week after using a human trafficking-related search warrant at a local massage parlor and spa, Worthington Division of Police officers still were investigating and had not made any arrests.
In a combined effort with several central Ohio groups, Worthington officers on Aug. 14 raided Asia Good Luck Massage Spa at 2159 W. Dublin-Granville Road in Worthington with shouts of "Police! Search warrant!"
Worthington Sgt. Jim Moran said the investigation was related to human trafficking and two human-trafficking "survivors" were found.
The shop "technically" was not shut down at the time, he said, though the city was in the process of trying to close it under the Ohio Revised Code's abatement-of-nuisance guidelines in chapter 3767.
Moran said patience would be key to the investigation, which is not expected to be completed any time soon.
"We're making progress in the investigation," he said. "The actual criminal investigation is ongoing."
Moran said Aug. 20 that no arrests had been made and Asia Good Luck Massage Spa still had not been closed by the city, allowing the business to operate "if they choose."
"This is a pretty complicated investigation," he said. "Not just ours, but any investigation of this type."
On Aug. 21, the business appeared to be closed, and calls to its phone number went directly to voicemail.
Moran said the police division, along with the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, the FBI, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation and other agencies, had been investigating the establishment for about a year.
"We're quite confident that it's human trafficking-related," he said.
In what Moran described as a "soft approach," authorities' main concern was for the safety of women who reportedly were living at the business, he said.
Bryttani Barker, anti-human-trafficking program coordinator for the Salvation Army in Central Ohio, was on hand to help the women, whom she said her organization refers to as "survivors."
"Our priority is the survivor who is being identified as a survivor of human trafficking and making sure our approach is very survivor-centered and identifying what they're in need of," she said.
During the raid, James Spurrell, who operates Up-Towne Flowers & Gift Shoppe with his wife, Cindy, in the same complex as the massage parlor, said he and others suspected "from day one" something suspicious was happening.
He described seeing "handlers" bringing food in and out of the building, but had never seen the women come or go. He even described being "threatened" by a "big, burly man" who seemed like a "bouncer."
"We open at 9 o'clock and they don't open until 10, but they're there when we get here and they're there when we leave," he said. "And nobody ever drops anybody off, except customers who come in the front."
Moran said the owner of the spa, whom he declined to identify, owned other spas throughout the country, but he didn't know of others in central Ohio.
According to public records, the owner is Lucy Yang. No phone number for her was listed and ThisWeek was not able to reach her for comment.
Asked if he was disappointed to see human trafficking concerns in Worthington, Moran said he was "disappointed to see it anywhere."
"It's disgusting," he said. "(For) the people who perpetuate it and perpetrate it, as far as I'm concerned, prison would be treating them kindly. I'm thoroughly disgusted that we even have to have investigations like this in this country."
The Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force is "a coalition of local, county, state and federal agencies, including the Columbus Division of Police, Franklin County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations, Delaware County Sheriff's Office, Powell Police Department, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Franklin County Prosecutor's Office and the Delaware County Prosecutor's Office," according to ohioattorneygeneral.gov.
The task force works in cooperation with the Salvation Army, the website said.