Investigators from the city Department of the Prosecuting Attorney raided three businesses and arrested two people Friday as part of a crackdown on Honolulu brothels operating as massage parlors and relaxation spas.
Search warrants were executed at Ace Spa, Golden Spa and Sun Spa at 1507 S. King St. for allegedly promoting prostitution and sex trafficking.
Eight people were indicted by a grand jury last week on multiple charges including illegal ownership of a business and criminal conspiracy to promote prostitution, according to the prosecutor’s office. So far only two have been arrested.
They are Hyon Hui Pummell, 49, who was arrested at the King Street site Friday on suspicion of illegal ownership of a business, prostitution and two counts of promoting prostitution, and another woman, Sang Sol Kim, 62, who was arrested at an Amana Street residence in the Ala Moana area.
The indictments are part of an ongoing sex trafficking investigation by the prosecutor’s office, the Honolulu Police Department and the federal Department of Homeland Security.
“This action highlights a continuing effort initiated by the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney more than four years ago. The goal is to remove these seedy establishments from our neighborhoods and identify and assist victims of human trafficking,” said acting Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Nadamoto in a written statement. “The arrest of high-profile individuals made headlines across the nation recently when so-called massage parlors along the Eastern Seaboard were exposed. Unfortunately, Hawaii is not immune to this unlawful activity.”
In recent years, investigations into more than a dozen Honolulu businesses led to prostitution-related arrests and convictions. Among the businesses were China Doll, Cypress, Dream Therapy, Empire, Go Go Spa, Mayflower, VIP, Pink Orchid, I Yokohama, and Top Spa and Rose’s, according to the prosecutor’s office.
“While it takes a considerable amount of time and resources to build a case against these establishments, they are actually operating in plain sight and on some of our busiest streets,” Nadamoto said. “They also advertise their services on the internet.”
Susannah Wesley Community Center caseworkers accompanied law enforcement officers on the raids to offer assistance to potential sex trafficking victims.