Palmer Township police say Happy Forest Spa was front for prostitution
Palmer Township police detained an employee after raiding a Stones Crossing spa today, where they say women offered an informant sex acts for money during three visits.
This afternoon's raid of the Happy Forest Spa, 202 Village at Stones Crossing, was the result of a two-month investigation, according to a news release from Detective Jim Alercia. After receiving numerous complaints about possible prostitution at the business, police conducted surveillance and monitored conversations in a spa-related chat room, according to a news release.
A phone number listed online for the spa is temporarily out of service, and an online search for "Happy Forest Spa, Easton, Pa" yields erotic massage parlor websites.
"Our job is to protect the residents and legitimate business owners of Palmer Township," Alercia said in the release. "Today's operation sends a message to the operators of Happy Forest Spa, and any other business owners who decide to conduct illegal activity, it will not be tolerated."
Police learned today that Yueqin Dong, of New York City, owned and operated the spa, according to the news release. A woman detectives detained is providing police with information on others who worked there, police said.
Police alleged Dong transports the women to and from New York City.
Alercia said the woman detained today does not face criminal charges. She was a new employee with whom the informant had no contact, he said.
Police will file charges against other women who were not at the spa at the time of the raid, Alercia said.
Police confiscated massage tables, evidence of sexual activity, surveillance cameras that were mounted in the ceiling and an undisclosed amount of money, Alercia said. They also found evidence that workers lived inside the spa, which is a code violation, according to the release.
The building is owned by Strausser Enterprises, which cooperated with authorities during the investigation, police said. A message left after hours for company president Gary Strausser at company headquarters was not immediately returned.
In the release, Alercia alludes to a possible connection between the spa and a Korean organized crime ring based in Flushing, N.Y. The "Asian massage parlor problem" is part of a "larger Asian prostitution phenomenon" along the East Coast, Alercia wrote in the news release.
The owners often obtain the location but put other people on the lease to conceal their involvement, police said. They take Korean workers from Flushing to a location they've converted into an Asian massage parlor, police said. The proprietor uses Web-based video surveillance to keep tabs from New York and runs the business through associates, police said.
The Department of Homeland Security assisted Palmer Township police, according to the news release.