(Adding video, comments by Bend woman who fights human trafficking )
‘This happens in every city across the country’
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Bend police, assisted by the FBI, have raided three Bend massage businesses, part of a 2-year investigation of community complaints that sex acts were taking place at the businesses, officers said Wednesday. No suspects were found and no arrests made.
Bend police, in conjunction with the FBI, conducted state (not federal) search warrants Monday morning at the Jade Spa on Northeast Third Street, the Green Spa on Northeast Franklin Avenue and Lotus Spa on Southeast Third Street, Lt. Juli McConkey said.
Then, on Tuesday afternoon, police served another search warrant at a home in the 100 block of Southeast Taft Avenue, she said.
The raids resulted from an investigation that began in late 2018, focused on community complaints regarding sexual acts taking place at local massage parlors, McConkey said.
“During the investigation, officers with the Bend Police Problem-Oriented Policing Team were able to obtain information from several sources to corroborate those complaints,” McConkey said in a news release.
The FBI and Bend police were assisted by linguists to assist with communication, and resources were offered to the businesses’ workers, who police termed victims in the case.
NewsChannel 21 spoke with In Our Backyard Executive Director Nita Belles, whose group has fought sex trafficking around the country for several years, to learn more about the issues of human trafficking in Central Oregon.
“Oftentimes, victims at massage parlors are attracted to the United States because of a promised job,” Belles said. “They may have been promised a job at a restaurant, or an office job, but when they get here, the fact that they are not American citizens is held over their heads by their traffickers.”
Belles called the raids a step in the right direction to combat sex trafficking in Central Oregon. But she said she believes it’s more pervasive than just 3 locations in Bend.
Belles said it happens in every city across the country, but there are ways to help.
As of now, the suspects in the investigation were not located. No one was arrested during the raids, McConkey said, “and there is no intention of arresting any of the contacted people” during the raids.
The investigation continues, she said, declining to release any further information.
NewsChannel 21 attempted to contact the three businesses Wednesday but was unsuccessful.