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By Robert Wilonsky. For almost a decade, for-lease s hung in giant windows displaying blank interiors. Then, incame two new tenants, 1 and Lucky Haven, followed a year later by a place called New York, New York sandwiched between the two. Brightly lit s were installed over doorways. The windows were covered up, the storefronts decorated with strips of LED lights colored blue, green and red. Inside, construction workers filled the empty shells with rooms, showers, kitchens. Outside, illuminated OPEN s were flipped on and never turned off.
I live 2 miles from this strip center near Stemmons Freeway -- have most of my life -- and drive past it often. Seldom have I given this place much thought, except to wonder, occasionally, what these nondescript storefronts were selling. But this was before I was told how truly widespread these parlors are in this part of town, in tucked-away corners and in plain sight -- and before I saw it up close, during a raid this week at 1. This is Massage parlors dallas texas problem increasingly imported by owners who live as far away as Thailand and Korea.
And for now, at least, Dallas has just 12 vice officers tasked with eradicating it. Tuesday night, just after sunset, those officers, with backup from narcotics and patrol officers, raided 1 after a months-long investigation. They were between shifts: A car pulled up to drop off one manager and pick up another. Both women — year-old Yong-Cha Yi Shim and year-old Sun Cha Yoon -- were arrested and charged with aggravated promotion of prostitution, a third-degree felony. A third manager, ly unknown to police, was merely detained, because officers did not have a warrant for her arrest.
This woman, elderly and with a hacking cough, sat on the ground near the side entrance, where someone had tossed an empty condom wrapper. Undercover officers wearing knit masks through which you could see only their eyes found six women inside. Another showed up later, reporting for work even with the place surrounded by cop cars with flashing lights. Two were Thai; two, Korean; three, Hispanic. All appeared to be in their 20s. Only one, a woman from El Salvador who refused to talk to officers, was taken into custody, because she had an immigration detainer.
The rest met with cops in the command center parked along Walnut Hill, then with social services providers on site who offered them shelter, a second chance. Their work, I will detail in coming days. Dallas is one of the few cities in the country where workers are not treated like criminals. Many of these women, too, are forced to live on the premises.
Inside, there was ample proof of this. In the back of 1 were two small rooms, each containing giant wood frames covered with thin and worn rubber mats and tossed sheets and comforters. Here, the women slept next to each other when they were not working. Their suitcases were stashed beneath the giant bed frames.
There were bookshelves, too, lined along the bottom with high-heeled shoes. Higher up on the shelves were bottles filled with gels, lubricants and massage oils. Big-screen televisions, connected to surveillance cameras posted outside the front and back doors, hung on the walls of these communal bedrooms.
There were several other smaller rooms, each with beds, chairs and tables covered with bottle of gels, bowls filled with wrapped mints and boxes of tissues. In two of the rooms were giant shower stalls containing beds made of white plastic pipes covered with thick green plastic mats. In one room, a customer left a white University of California Santa Barbara baseball cap on a table; in another, a discarded condom wrapper lay on a bed next to a small container of liquid soap. The hallways were painted pink, the ceilings lined with more red LED lights.
There was an ATM in the middle; toward the back, a kitchen stocked with an oven and refrigerator and washing machines. During that raid, vice noticed suspicious activity at 1 and dispatched two undercover officers to confirm what they suspected — that sex was sold there, too. Perhaps this comes as no surprise to you. This part of Dallas, through which Harry Hines Boulevard slices like a rusty knife, has always trended toward the seedy, the dangerous. Here, Dallas has dumped its strip ts and all-nude clubs and adult bookstores; here, women walk the streets today just as they have done for decadesevery day at all hours — Sunday mornings, even, in the hours just before daybreak.
They were out Tuesday night, as well, strolling up and down Walnut Hill in front of the officer busy securing the 1 and interviewing the women who worked there. Vice officers estimate there are between 65 to 80 of these businesses in northwest Dallas alone — in that area bound by Stemmons Freeway, Northwest Highway, Harry Hines and Royal Lane.
1 has been raided before — in Junealong with seven other brothels posing as massage parlors, five of which were located within a block of each other along or near Walnut Hill. Fifteen women, owners or managers, were arrested then and charged with third-degree felonies. The raids slowed business, for a moment, but could not stop it. Some closed down or moved to other industrial areas nearby; others, like 1 and Green Spa, later reopened. Their spread accelerated inafter Dallas Police Chief U. When vice was reconstituted in January of this year, it was with just 12 operational detectives — barely enough to dent the doings in this part of town.
Beginning in Februarythe unit has raided eight massage parlors — one of them, the Green Spa, twice, in May and again in July. With so few officers, Massage parlors dallas texas their time between massage parlors and street prostitution and illegal gambling operation, vice does not have the personnel to raid a fraction of the brothels operating in northwest Dallas. They also do not have the authority to shut down these places; city attorneys do. But that process, which goes through the courts, can take months, even years.
When we left Tuesday night, around 11 p. The OPEN s were still on. Robert WilonskySpecial Contributor. Robert Wilonsky, former city columnist for The Dallas Morning News, is communications director for Heritage Auctions and a frequent contributor to these s. Stand with us in our mission to discover and uncover the story of North Texas. More from Home. Dallas police arrest man with fake Massage parlors dallas texas at Uptown office building. Should we all be wearing masks again? Suspect arrested more than a year after fatal shooting outside north Oak Cliff restaurant. Texas Gov.
Dallas police arrest man with fake bomb at Uptown office building By Hojun Choi. Most Popular on DallasNews. Judge says Wylie man seen at Capitol during riot can face detention hearing in D.Massage parlors dallas texas
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