While no arrests were made in 2005, according to city Planning and Development Director Amanda Jarratt, two employees were arrested in the Thursday night raid of Health Spa at 1010 Julian R. Allsbrook Highway.
Interim Chief Adam Bondarek said Soung-Auk Kim, 51, was charged with soliciting for prostitution while Tong Sun Hong, 73, was charged with maintaining an establishment for prostitution.
Both women listed their addresses as the business. Kim was jailed on $2,500 bond and Hong was jailed on $1,500 bond. They both have August 17 court dates.
The arrests of the South Korean women began a campaign in the city police department called Operation Red Light, which throughout the summer will target not only prostitution but other crimes, Bondarek said.
Investigation of the business began over the winter and has continued to lead to the arrests Thursday.
Bondarek said the department has fielded numerous complaints about the business which have been investigated by narcotics agents and detectives.
Bondarek said the business was operating as a therapeutic massage business but has extensive external and internal security controls. "That made our investigation time consuming and difficult."
Investigation revealed evidence that employees openly solicited customers, Bondarek said. There were employees and patrons at the business Thursday.
The interim chief declined to discuss prices, evidence he said that will be used as part of the court case. "There was a large amount of evidence seized that would indicate the payment of money for getting sexual favors. In my opinion this business was no more than a front to operate as a brothel."
In 2005 the business operated as Shangri-La, Jarratt said. An investigation by the planning department and police department then led to it being shut down almost as soon as it opened in March.
In December of 2005, a new owner bought the building and stated it was to be operated as a spa with tanning beds, steam showers, saunas and yoga from 10 a.m. to midnight.
As the just completed investigation did, the 2005 investigation showed evidence that not only was the business being used as a residence it was being used as a sexually oriented business in violation of city codes.
A contractor who worked on renovations to the building in 2005 was asked to become a partner because the women who sought his services could not pay him the full amount, he said this afternoon, requesting anonymity.
He said the renovations included a handicapped shower and dividing rooms for massage areas. A dry sauna was already in the building, he said.
He said the women, Korean, misled him, making him think they were building a therapeutic massage business. "They said it was going to be a man and woman massage therapy business."
When the women began asking him to find out about billboard ads catering only to men traveling on major highways and the interstate, he became skeptical. "I walked away," he said, explaining that was more than three years ago. "I'd rather lose my money than my reputation."