ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - There’s a new plan to crack down on illegal massage parlors in Orlando and Orange County, and it goes beyond just arresting everyone inside.
Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation Director Larry Zwieg said it's not enough to arrest the women in the massage parlors; Zwieg said the businesses themselves must be cleaned up or shut down.
But the only way to do that is to go after the property owners who lease space to the massage parlor owners, Zwieg said.
Investigators said women who were arrested were caught giving "happy endings" to clients inside parlors posing as legitimate spas.
Among those taken into custody was Li Cheng, who was arrested twice, 10 days apart, at two different massage parlors.
"The majorority of the ones we've been in, there's actually prostitution going on, and it's pretty blatant," said Zwieg.
With the help of Orlando and Orange County's Criminal Nuisance Abatement Board, investigators can go after property owners and warn them they could be fined or have their property seized if the illegal activity doesn't stop.
"We just want property owners to know that if this is going on, you're leasing to these massage parlors, that's what's going to happen," Zwieg said.
WFTV rang the bells of several massage parlors on MBI's list of businesses suspected of prostitution.
Miss May Massage on East Washington Street near downtown Orlando was one of the worst offenders, authorities said.
"They don't do happy endings?" asked WFTV's Daralene Jones.
"No," replied the employee.
"I thought you didn't speak English," Jones said.
The employee muttered inaudibly, and then said, "No English."
The property owner told WFTV he’s aware of the issue and has warned the business owner to start doing background checks immediately to clean up the problem.
MBI agents said they get little cooperation from the massage therapists to go after management.