KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced Tuesday that four civil lawsuits have been filed against illicit massage businesses operating in Missouri, including two right here in the Kansas City metro.
The four businesses are A Little Massage in Laclede County, Blue Lotus Asian Massage in Cole County, Shangri-La Massage in Jackson County and Ella’s Asian Massage in Clay County.
The aim of the suits is to obtain injunctions and shut the location down.
The lawsuits allege that each of the illicit massage businesses violated public nuisance statutes and advertised on websites like SkipTheGames, RubMaps, HarlotHub, RubRatings, iBackPage, and several others, which are used to solicit prostitution.
In the Blue Lotus Asian Massage and Ella’s Asian Massage lawsuits, reviews from different message boards were included that describe sex acts preformed on the premises.
Additionally, each illicit massage business advertised that they were open late and several had curtains covering the front windows, both hallmarks of an illicit massage businesses.
Through the Hope Initiative, an effort launched by Schmitt in October 2020, with an aim to crack down on illicit massage businesses operating in Missouri. The Attorney General’s Office attempted to contact the landlord for each of the illicit massage businesses to facilitate eviction, and either received no response or the landlord was unhelpful or unwilling to address the issue.
“Human trafficking cannot and will not be tolerated in the state of Missouri. Unfortunately, traffickers often use the legitimate massage industry as a façade to facilitate trafficking across the state,” Schmitt said. “With the filing of these civil lawsuits, we’re continuing into Phase 2 of the Hope Initiative, and my office will continue to collaborate with law enforcement across the state on criminal investigations. With these filings, we’re sending a clear message to traffickers: you are not welcome in the state of Missouri and you will not be able to hide with impunity any longer – we are coming for you.”
During a news conference on Tuesday, a representative from the Lee’s Summit Police Department also gave an update on a criminal investigation that the police department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and the AG’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force are currently working on.
The three agencies recently executed a search warrant on Swan Spa, an illicit massage business located in Lee’s Summit. A number of items were recovered, and several victims were provided needed medical and care services.
This case is still being investigated, but information from the Attorney General’s Hope Initiative and Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force aided in launching this investigation.