Eight spas and massage parlors in Montgomery County have been shut down after a police investigation uncovered criminal activity and permitting violations.
According to a release issued Tuesday, county police learned about a number of suspicious advertisements for spas online and re-opened an investigation into unlicensed spas that first began in the fall of 2011 and in 2012.
Officer Janelle Smith said the criminal activity included providing massages without a license.
In the 2011-2012 investigation, members of the police Vice and Intelligence Unit looked into alleged brothels masquerading as acupressure and massage spas, which ended with four business owners being arrested and charges related to human trafficking and prostitution, and six illegal spas being shut down.
In the more recent investigation, police closed down eight spas and message centers for reasons that include criminal activities and permitting violations, according to the release.
Police tracked establishments in Gaithersburg, Damascus, Rockville, and Bethesda.
The businesses that have since been closed include:
• Traditional Wellness – 9867 Main St. in Damascus
• Green Apple Massage – 350C Christopher Ave. in Gaithersburg
• Sunshine Day Spa – 615 S. Frederick Ave., Unit B5 in Gaithersburg
• Soothing Care Spa – 849C Quince Orchard Blvd. in Gaithersburg
• Massage Spring Spa – 11630 Rockville Pike in Rockville
• Best Spa – 11625 Nebel St. in Rockville
• Massage Center – 589 W. Deer Park Road in Gaithersburg
• LA Nails – 4928 St. Elmo Ave. in Bethesda
Police have arrested and charged “several individuals” from the establishments providing massage therapy without a license, while the county’s Department of Permitting Services has charged others with civil citations for violations of use and occupancy permits, according to the police statement. Specific names of those arrested and charges were not available.
Kary Luk, a friend of the owners of Massage Spring Spa working at the Rockville business Tuesday, said the spa had been shut down by investigators Oct. 28 when they discovered they had a county permit to operate a barber shop instead of a spa. She said the spa has since reopened.
At Best Spa in Rockville, the owner said his business was shut down by the county when investigators discovered his use and occupancy permit had expired. He said he is in the process of having his business reinspected and reissued the permit. He declined to provide his name.
Other spas and massage centers listed in the police release could not be reached for comment.
Police said they are still investigating illegal massage parlors and spas, and asked anyone with information to call the Vice and Intelligence Unit at 240-773-5958.