COVINGTON — Three suspects were arrested and a truckload of evidence was removed by Covington Police from two different spas following simultaneous raids Friday afternoon.
Investigators from multiple agencies served search warrants at the Lucky 7 Spa at 8218 Hazelbrand Road and the Covington Spa at 1065 Access Road about 1:30 p.m. Friday.
Covington Police Capt. Ken Malcom said the raids were carried out after a four-month investigation determined the businesses were “operating as places of prostitution.” Malcom said detectives with the CPD had been conducting undercover operations at the two locations and found that sexual acts were being offered to clients.
Following the raids, Malcom said the spas were effectively out of business. “They are both closed,” he said.
According to Malcom, head of the Covington Police Criminal Investigations Division, the investigation was jointly conducted by Homeland Security Investigations, the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office and Department of Revenue, the Alcovy Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office, the Covington Police and Fire departments and the Newton County Sheriff’s Office.
Malcom said the investigations began with concerns about human trafficking associated with illegal spas, the attraction of criminal elements to the area and the attraction of certain clientele into the community. The raids focused on the employees at the businesses and the illegal services they were allegedly providing.
“Human trafficking has become a crisis in metro Atlanta,” said Malcom. “Illegal massage therapy businesses are commonly linked with human trafficking. The Federation of State Massage Therapy Board Human Trafficking Task Force Report estimates that there are as many as 9,000 illegitimate massage parlors across the U.S. We will continue our investigation to determine if our locations have any workers tied into this horrible crime.”
Malcom added that social media outlets that promote illicit activities had mentioned the Lucky 7 as a recommended location for prostitution.
Malcom led the raid at the Lucky 7 Spa, and District Attorney Layla Zon took part in the investigation at the Covington Spa. The raids began with Covington Fire Department personnel entering the businesses on the pretext of fire inspections, making sure the doors were unlocked so investigators could enter behind them.
One woman, who is believed to be the manager, was arrested at the Lucky 7. Kyong Cha Oliveira, 62, has been charged with solicitation of prostitution, operating a house of prostitution and possession of Schedule IV (weight loss) drugs. Malcom said Oliveira had an encounter with an undercover agent earlier Friday before the arrest warrant was obtained.
“She has been known to the Covington Police Department since we started this investigation,” he said.
Fire Marshal Jonathan Fuqua said there were 15 fire code violations found inside the spa, including padlocked exit doors and smoke detectors with no batteries.
Malcom said it appeared that several people had been living at the location.
Oliveira was questioned for several hours at the spa, with translators present, before being transported to jail.
Two women were arrested at Covington Spa. They have been identified as Kyung Ja Han, 75, charged with keeping a place of prostitution, and Hyung R. Campbell, 54, charged with masturbation for hire.
Fuqua said there were also fire code violations uncovered at the Covington Spa.
Malcom said thousands in cash was confiscated at Lucky 7 but no weapons were found. It was not immediately known if cash or weapons were found at Covington Spa.
Bobby Sigman, who operates Hometown Realty in the building next door to Lucky 7, said it had been apparent to him that something illicit was taking place at the spa.
“This has been going on for almost two years,” he said. “We have reported it and reported it, and nothing has been done until now.”
Sigman said oftentimes customers of the spa would park in front of his business or at the bank across the street, apparently so they would not be connected with the spa.
“We had to run them off,” Sigman said.