Two women at Medford massage parlors were arrested Thursday for allegedly offering sexual favors for a fee to undercover officers, but that isn't enough for police to shut down the businesses.
"The law isn’t in our favor that way," Medford police Lt. Paul Covino said in a phone interview Friday. "We’re catching a lot of heat from the public on these things, but there isn’t much power on our end to close these places."
That's because the owners of the businesses don't face any charges, Covino said. Baojuan Shi, 49 of New York City, and Simone Santos, 39, of Malden, each face misdemeanor charges of offering sexual conduct for a fee.
But neither implicated their employer, Covino said, which prevents police from charging the owners with deriving an income from prostitution. Shi worked at Mixue Spa at 397 Main Street, while Santos worked at Lavish Spa at 407 Mystic Ave.
"They go to great lengths to disassociate what they are doing with the owners with these places," Covino said. "It’s almost like they’ve been trained."
The arrests came as result of an investigation by Medford police, the state's Division of Professional Licensure and the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Covino said he would not provide detail of the investigation because similar tactics could be used by city police in the future.
"The whole object of the game here to move them out of the city," Covino said.
The Division of Professional Licensure cited Shi, Santos and another worker for not being a properly licensed massage therapist, Covino said. The division could also potentially come up with other violations that could force the parlors to shutdown, but such action had not been taken as of Friday afternoon.
Mixue Spa was still open on Friday, Covino said, but he was unsure of Lavish Spa. No one answered a call to Lavish Spa's listed phone number late Friday afternoon.