VERO BEACH, Fla. (WPTV/CNN) – Authorities say they have connected dozens of men to a major sex and human trafficking operation in Florida.
Now nearly 50 of them are in police custody, and five spas have been raided.
Vero Beach Police Chief David Currey explained there was “very little” in the way of actual massaging going on at the spas.
Investigators in Indian River County announced the arrests of dozens of men Thursday, as they busted an ongoing sex and human trafficking organization hidden in plain sight.
“These Johns either knowingly, or not knowingly, were certainly supplying the funds to perpetuate human trafficking,” said Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar.
Investigators said that victims were recruited at three different spas in the area to perform sex acts in exchange for money.
“We also know that staff at times was not allowed to leave the spa,” Loar said. “In other words, they were living in the spa.”
After receiving tips, investigators went undercover and conducted surveillance for months.
The investigation has now culminated in nearly 200 warrants served and dozens of men now facing charges.
“These are fathers, uncles and sons and family members of others,” Currey said.
Investigators said some of the spa managers and owners are also connected to two more spas in the state, including one in Orlando.
Now licenses are being pulled and the spas are being shut down.
“We know exactly what was done,” Currey said. “They weren’t going in there for massages at all.”
Investigators said the investigation is far from over. More warrants are being prepared and more arrests are coming.
Copyright 2019 WPTV via CNN. All rights reserved.