Rock Springs massage parlor searched in human trafficking investigation
November 16, 2023
The Sweetwater County Sheriff's Office, in partnership with the Rock Springs Police Department, served a search warrant Tuesday afternoon at a downtown Rock Springs massage parlor as part of a months-long human trafficking investigation.
Sheriff's office spokesperson Jason Mower said, "Earlier this year, we began investigating the alleged performance of sexual acts at an Asian massage parlor in the 600 block of Broadway in Rock Springs."
Mower said that during the investigation, detectives developed information indicating those involved with the purportedly legitimate business are, in fact, likely human trafficking victims.
"We believe the masseuses and others working there are trafficking victims forced or otherwise coerced to perform labor, including sex acts, as part of a larger network of organized criminal enterprise possibly operating throughout the region," Mower said.
Lead detective on the case, Lieutenant Michelle Hall, said, "Illicit massage parlors are often hidden in plain sight, putting on a facade of legitimacy to conceal their criminal activity and avoid detection by law enforcement."
"This is a known issue and growing trend. These businesses operate in every state nationwide. Unfortunately, many of those engaged in commercial sex as part of these types of operations are actually labor and sex trafficking victims," Hall said.
Hall credited a cooperative effort among the sheriff's office, Rock Springs Police Department, and local FBI and HSI agents for Tuesday's search warrant operation.
Hall also thanked the YWCA of Sweetwater County and the Asian Pacific Development Center of Aurora, Colorado, for their support in providing services to assist trafficking victims as part of this investigation and Tuesday's operation.
Mower said that, given the case's complexity, no arrests have been made yet, and the investigation remains active and ongoing. Anyone with information is encouraged to please contact Lt. Hall at (307) 922-5331.