A year-long investigation prompted by complaints from residents throughout the Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights areas of Brooklyn culminated in the arrests of 19 people police say were involved in promoting prostitution out of 12 "day spas" and "massage parlors."
The so-called spas and massage parlors were not connected to one another, according to Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.
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Hynes expressed hope that these takedowns will "send a message," not just to those in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights but throughout Brooklyn, that authorities won't stand for "illicit operations that exploit women and blight neighborhoods."
Some of the locations were reported by neighbors simply based on visibly shady activity, but others actually outright advertised their illegal sex services on websites like Craigslist and Backpage.
Investigators with the DA's office and cops with the NYPD Brooklyn South Vice Unit conducted surveillance and worked undercover for a year to collect evidence linking the 19 individuals and the 12 sites to prostitution activities.
The sites were also brought up on charges related to worker's comp and other labor laws, as well as health, safety and zoning violations.
Over 50 health and safety code violations were issued and two of the buildings had to be vacated immediately due to dangerous structural conditions.
The DA's office is still coordinating the shutdown of these locations under NYC Nuisance Abatement Laws. They also said they are working with advocacy and support groups, as well as Safe Horizons and the New York Asian Women's Center, to secure assistance and resources for the women arrested on prostitution charges but who may have been victims rather than perpetrators.
Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat