BROOKLYN (PIX11) – NYPD officers arrested 19 people in a prostitution crackdown on various “day spas” and “massage parlors” in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, authorities announced Thursday.
“In this case, there were 19 massage parlors in a relatively small area,” said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. “Now we know that the people of Bay Ridge have back pain, but we don’t think it’s enough to sustain 19 massage parlors.”
The arrests come after a year-long investigation that began after neighbors complained of “suspicious and disruptive activities,” according to the D.A.’s office.
“I hope that these arrests will send a message not only to the communities of Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge, but throughout Brooklyn, that I share their concerns regarding these purported “day spas” and “massage therapists” and we will not tolerate illicit operations that exploit women and blight neighborhoods,” said D.A. Hynes.
The bust was the culmination of a joint investigation by the Kings County District Attorney Special Investigations Unit and the NYPD’s Brooklyn South Vice Unit. Using undercover detectives, surveillance and search warrants, the operation revealed “substantial evidence of prostitution” and a string of work-related and zoning law violations.
The arrests included both workers and owners at 12 different establishments.
Sienna Baskin, Co-Director of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center, said Thursday, “Arresting sex workers does nothing to increase their opportunities and safety. The city should focus on outreach and services to sex workers, instead of arresting them.”
According to the D.A.’s office, the status of the workers charged with prostitution will be ‘carefully considered’ by the D.A.’s Sex Trafficking Unit and Victims Services Unit after working with women’s advocacy groups, Safe Horizons and the New York Asian Women’s Center.