Richmond police arrested six people Thursday at a massage parlor on the Eastern Bypass that allegedly was used for prostitution.

The arrests of three employees and three customers came after a two- to three-week investigation of Rainbow Spa, 497 Eastern Bypass, using undercover officers and assistance from the Lexington and Berea police departments, said Sgt. Willard Reardon, public affairs officer for the Richmond Police Department.

“We had some surveillance on the place to see the traffic coming in and out and to see the number of people that were going in and out as quickly as they were,” he said. “There were factors there that led us to believe that something was going on.”

“From what (investigators) were saying, it’s a closed off, almost secure area when you go in the front,” said Reardon about the business’ layout. “Then you go into the back area and there’s a sauna and some other things that would lead you to believe that it was a health club. In reality, that’s not necessarily the case.”

During the execution of a search warrant, police discovered a large quantity of condoms, cash and crystal methamphetamine.

Hye Suk Price, 50, of Johnson City, Kan., who is believed to be the manager of the business, was charged with third-degree promoting prostitution.

Toi Juhew, 30, whose residence is listed as the address of Rainbow Spa, was charged with prostitution after allegedly offering to engage in sexual activity for money with an undercover police officer.

Hyun Jeong Lee, 28, who also had the massage parlor address as her residence, was charged with first-degree possession of a controlled substance (crystal meth.)

After the employees were arrested, the police kept the business open to operate a reverse sting operation, resulting in three arrests of customers on criminal solicitation charges, Reardon said.

Kenneth Price, 47, of Nancy, Robert Lehman, 50, of Somerset, and Jerry Hoskins, 24, of Pineville, were charged after allegedly soliciting an undercover officer for sex.

“You bring a certain clientele into your city when those things are up and running and it’s not necessarily your local folks,” Reardon said. “What people will do is go from town to town. If you lived in say Somerset, even if there was (a massage parlor) there, they may not want to go there because they might be known. So, they’re willing to go some place that’s 20, 30 or 40 miles away that’s easy to drive to.”

It is difficult for undercover officers to get into houses of prostitution fronting as massage parlors, Reardon said, because the employees have been in other towns and are very street savvy about how to keep from being caught.

“It gets to a point where they end up propositioning a person to pay for sex,” he said. “When that happens, then it goes into a criminal solicitation and that’s how we ended up making our cases.”

“They’ll give them a certain price kind of like apples and oranges,” Reardon said. “Here’s a price for this and a price for this and whatever you want.”

While the open sign still was lit up Friday afternoon outside of Rainbow Spa, a “Notice” sign was placed on the door from the city building inspector’s office stating that the building could not be rented or entered until it was inspected.

The potential illegal activity at the massage parlor was first brought to the police’s attention by Action News 36 in Lexington, who recently had done an investigative report about a massage parlor in Nicholasville that led to prostitution arrests, Reardon said.

Rainbow Spa has had advertisements almost daily in the Sports section of a Lexington paper next to ads for several adult establishments.

The ad, which is bordered by a $10 off coupon for another Richmond massage parlor touting “accupressure stress reliever,” features directions from Interstate 75, a drawing of a woman and a mention of a dry sauna.

“Usually, even though they may be under different names, they may be in the same inner circle,” Reardon said. “The girls go from place to place. When they see one close down, they figure they’re getting ready to get it , so they’ll go too.”

“They move those girls around from place to place where it’s hard for law enforcement to keep up with them,” he said. “You’re never really sure of the names. They change like the weather. The normal (method of operation) for a place like this is that they’ll move everybody out and you’ll never hear from them for awhile. Then, they will try to spring back up.”

Bryan Marshall can be reached at bmarshall@richmondregister.com or 624-6691.

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