Investigation continues in Nederland massage parlor sting

Published 12:30 am Wednesday, May 17, 2023

NEDERLAND — Four Nederland massage parlors remain closed following an undercover sting operation, and now police are looking to see if more people are connected to the illegal operations.

Nederland Police Chief Gary Porter said since the raid, all four of the business owners and building owners have been notified of the city violations and closures.

“We are still looking into who knew what was going on,” Porter said. “If we find out any of the business owners were involved willingly with illegal activity, if appropriate we will refer the case to the District Attorney’s office.”

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Police have had quite a bit of input from residents following Thursday’s closure of Fit Massage at 902 S. 27th St., Natural Day Spa at 401 S. Memorial Highway, Ivy Massage at 3534 FM 365 and Stone & Spa at 1607 Nederland Avenue.

Porter said residents appreciated police efforts and he believes residents will be more diligent and possibly notify authorities should they see something suspicious.

“If we have criminal activity going on at a business, we have to take action. And if you are aware of it, you may face consequences also,” he said.

Two women were arrested on warrants in connection with the illegal activity at two of the massage parlors and have since bonded out of jail.

Last fall Nederland police began getting information that some of the massage type establishments around town were involved in illegal sex acts for money or tips, Porter said.

That led to the start of an undercover operation.

Four officers took part in the undercover operation with as many as 10 working all aspects. The investigation started last fall.

City business

City Manager Chris Duque said municipal authorities received complaints from the public about the possibility of illegal activity at the massage parlors. That led to a two-phase ordinance and amendment to an ordinance.

On Oct. 24, City Council approved an amendment to an older ordinance defining massage establishments and setting parameters for the business, signage and enforcement of the ordinance.

Then on Dec. 19, City Council approved an ordinance revising regulations to massage therapists and businesses.

If the business violated the provisions then they would lose their certificate of occupancy and thus had to close their doors.

The new zoning provision states a massage parlor had to be located in a highway/retail zone and must get a specific use permit from City Council to operate.

The businesses were grandfathered in because they were opened under the previous zoning restrictions. But now, with violations, they were shut down.

Two of the four businesses are located in areas of the city that are not zoned for highway/retail so they will be able to reopen in the same location.

Fit Massage is located across the street from Hillcrest Elementary School and Ivy Massage is near Central Middle School.