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Saturday, October 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

New evidence of prostitution, sex trafficking revealed after investigators search Spokane area massage parlors

UPDATED: Thu., July 26, 2018, 5:50 p.m.

The owner of Space Oil Spa in Spokane Valley is accused of running a sex trafficking and prostitution ring. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
The owner of Space Oil Spa in Spokane Valley is accused of running a sex trafficking and prostitution ring. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Court records say authorities found more evidence of sex trafficking and prostitution after raiding a trio of Spokane massage parlors two weeks ago.

In a search warrant filed Wednesday in Spokane County Superior Court, Detective Daniel McDonald of the Washington State Patrol wrote that detectives found used tissues in trash cans that appeared to have dried DNA, a suitcase full of cash, and a cellphone with explicit video.

Detectives also interviewed Kelan Johnson and his wife, Aiming Yang-Johnson, who co-own Space Oil Spa, Crystal Sea Spa and 3 Pier Oil Spa. McDonald wrote that Yang-Johnson, who moved from China to the United States earlier this year when she married her husband, was “difficult and deceptive” during their interview on July 12, at one point deleting a text message conversation before handing her phone over to investigators.

“During the interview of Aiming Yang-Johnson, it was apparent that Chinese was her native language, but her English was good and she appeared to understand most of what we were saying and asking,” McDonald wrote. “She answered basic foundational questions, however, whenever we asked a question about her address or business she stated she didn’t understand English.”

Johnson, who has denied that any illegal activity has occurred at his parlors, said Thursday his wife wasn’t being deceitful – she just couldn’t understand the language.

“If I would have been in that room, she would have fully understood,” he said. “Because I know how to talk to her.”

The Johnsons’ businesses came under scrutiny two weeks ago, when court records detailed a monthslong investigation into allegations of sex trafficking and prostitution at the trio of massage parlors. In addition to multiple anonymous complaints that the parlor’s Asian masseuses were offering sex acts for money, several reported the women were asking for help, saying they were being forced into prostitution.

In early July, according to court records, an undercover officer with the Department of Homeland Security chronicled his experience at Space Oil Spa on Indiana Avenue, where he reported his genitals were touched multiple times without warning and he was offered sexual acts for $40.

During an interview with detectives on July 19, Johnson said he would log all incoming customers that call in and schedule appointments and that the parlor would then send them text messages when they get new workers, court records say.

In addition to money, detectives also seized multiple cellphones.

According to the warrant, McDonald is hoping to find evidence of photographs, emails, texts and chat history on an application called “WeChat,” which McDonald notes is often used in “human sex trafficking and child exploitation cases.”

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