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Law enforcement officers raid Korean-run massage parlor in Spotsylvania
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Date published: 9/1/2003
By CATHY JETT
Fredericksburg Spa apparently was offering more than the "stress reduction" and "sports massages" advertised on its small roadside sign on the U.S. 1 Bypass.
Officers from several law enforcement agencies yesterday morning raided the Korean-run business, which is in a shopping center at 4515 Jefferson Davis Highway, near Harrison Road in Spotsylvania County.
Armed with search warrants, the officers seized computers, financial records, telephones, videotapes, vehicles and cash, Spotsylvania sheriff's Maj. Howard Smith last night.
A similar raid took place about the same time at a residence in Fairfax County, he said.
Joem Chul Park, 52, an illegal immigrant, was one of three women who were at Fredericksburg Spa during the raid. Park was detained by the federal Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation, Smith said. The other two women were not detained.
No one has been charged in the case, but more details about the three-month investigation will be announced tomorrow or Wednesday, Smith said. Charges of prostitution, money laundering and conspiracy are expected, he said.
An employee of Nationwide Warehouse, a mattress and furniture store that is located next door to Fredericksburg Spa, said the spa appeared to do a booming business.
"There were a lot of people going in and out of there," said the employee, who declined to give his name. "I never knew why."
The Spotsylvania Sheriff's Office is conducting the investigation with the help of the Virginia attorney general's Financial Crime Intelligence Center, the Spotsylvania commonwealth's attorney and federal immigration agents.
The arrests are the first in a series of combined police operations intended to target and disrupt organized-crime activity and money laundering in Virginia, said Tim Murtaugh, spokesman for Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore.
"We feel like it's a fairly large operation," Murtaugh said of the prostitution enterprise.
It was not the first time that police have investigated Korean-operated massage parlors in the Fredericksburg area.
In April, police raided Genex Therapeutic Massage at Old Plank Road and State Route 3. Employees were accused of performing sexual acts on clients, with discounts offered to high school students.
Howard and Murtaugh declined to say if that business is linked to Fredericksburg Spa.
Man Hyo Grimm, 51, Genex's suspected madam, was charged with procuring prostitution and conspiracy to commit consensual sodomy.
Two Genex employees, Yujin "Mimi" Zhao and Yingai "Coco" Li, both 43, were charged with attempted consensual sodomy. Both testified during a preliminary hearing in May against Grimm, who had been their boss.
Through an interpreter, both women said she had promised to obtain immigration green cards for them if they performed well in her business.
Li and Zhao are illegal aliens who said they came to this country from China via Mexico several years ago. They moved to Spotsylvania late last year.
The women testified that Grimm told them she had connections to the Korean Mafia.
The three women's cases have not yet gone to trial.
Staff writer Keith Epps contributed to this report.
To reach CATHY JETT: 540/374-5407 firstname.lastname@example.org