A recent police action resulting in workers’ compensation citations in Azusa, California shows us that, when it comes to investigating massage parlors, it truly takes a legal village.

The police department in Azusa had apparently received complaints that some of the massage parlors within its jurisdiction were offering services above and beyond the traditional massage, if you know what I mean. If you don’t know what I mean, we are talking about sex. Apparently the department did not have the resources or experience in this area (massage parlors, not sex), so they reached out to other agencies “with specific expertise in massage parlor operations”. Ultimately the Azusa Police Department partnered with the City of Azusa Code Enforcement Division, California Employment Development Department, Department of Industrial Relations, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department’s Major Crimes Bureau (Licensing Unit) to conduct a Massage Parlor Operation within the City of Azusa.

That is a whopping number of agencies that apparently have “specific expertise in massage parlor operations”.

Oh, and in addition to looking for illegal sexual services, they were looking for victims of human trafficking.

Lo and behold, this swarm of investigators “investigated” (raided?) six massage parlors. They found no victims of human trafficking, and no evidence that sexual services were being offered. I would suspect one reason they found no sex crime evidence is because the places were crawling with city inspectors and police. That is not generally conducive to illicit arrangements of the sexual kind.

This army of law enforcement did find several violations, however, so all was not lost. According to authorities, “numerous citations were issued for violations of various Azusa municipal codes, along with workers compensation, insurance, or minimum wage violations”. Some of the businesses face potential fines of several thousand dollars each, which is a good thing, since someone has to pay for the parking meters on all those law enforcement vehicles idling out front. Authorities did not identify the businesses, as the investigation is ongoing, and “additional administrative inspections of this nature are expected in the future”.

I’ll bet.

I would suggest to California authorities that if they really want to catch someone in the act, a less subtle approach might be called for. At least one where the distant rumbling of the approaching Armada does not tip your hand. Seems to me that a single investigator going undercover (if you’ll pardon the pun) might be able to discover far more than the clipboard wielding army assembled for this task. Although, admittedly, hiding the wire on a single investigator could prove problematic given the nature of the investigation. I am not sure where they would hide it.

And I am not sure I would even want to know.

So, citizens of Azusa, sleep well. You can rest assured that your area massage parlors will have adequate workers' compensation insurance, and will not offer you sexual services upon your arrival. Of course, you must be prepared to park some distance away and walk to the parlor. The legal village may be occupying all the parking spots nearby.

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