AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Some massage parlors in Mahoning and Trumbull counties were raided Monday, suspected of operating as illegal fronts for money laundering and human trafficking.
According to Ohio Attorney General David Yost, multiple search warrants were executed simultaneously by the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force and several law enforcement partners during the one-day operation nicknamed “Operation Saving Daylight.”
Investigators seized hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and financial assets, business records and other evidence. Searches occurred at three business locations:
- Tiger Spa, 420 W. Market St., Warren
- Sunny Spa, 2819 W. Market St., Warren
- 76 Spa and Tanning, 5325 Seventy-Six Drive, Austintown
The investigations started almost five years ago as a human trafficking case.
“And then it really opened up into what we basically call a RICO case. A lot of money laundering,'” said Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene.
The Warren Police Station served as a command center for the operation, utilizing officers from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties as well as agents with the FBI and the Ohio Attorney General.
“We have been able to determine that this network is not only tied in with those other three spas, but it’s also tied in with six different states,” Greene said
A number of out-of-state banks had assets frozen, with hundreds of thousands of dollars seized.
“There was a safety deposit box that was popped open that had $110,000 cash in it, and there’s probably additional banks with that same situation,” Greene said.
Warrants also were executed at private homes in Leavittsburg, Warren, Austintown, Youngstown and Poland. Additionally, search warrants and court orders were executed outside Ohio as the investigation spans six states, Yost said.
There were no arrests Monday, but nearly 12 people found working at the different spas were removed and relocated by investigators.
“We’re proud of the fact of how well we work with all of our brothers and sisters in law enforcement from the federal level to the state level and local here,” Greene said.
The task force is led by the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office and organized under the Ohio Attorney General’s Organized Crime Investigation Commission.
Charges are expected as the investigation continues.