BEAUMONT — Countless hours of surveillance at a Beaumont 'spa' led Beaumont Police to believe they were selling a whole lot more than just massage therapy. If you visited the Tulip Spa this past year, Sergeant Cody Guedry says they have you on camera.
The business is believed to be a cover for organized crime, prostitution, and human trafficking.
According to the affidavit for search and arrest warrant filed by Beaumont Police, they became aware of the location on Laurel Avenue from ads on backpage.com, a known website used for the promotion of prostitution.
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The affidavit says the advertisement included pictures of Asian women dressed in provocative clothing and unusually late hours of operation, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The "spa" also advertised that they would have a "table shower," a feature not generally common in legitimate massage parlors, and often indicative of possible prostitution.
Once the spa opened, police continued to monitor internet activity on Backpage.com and Eccie.net, another website known to promote prostitution.
On April 19, 2017 they started seeing reviews on Eccie.net. Posters described the amount of money spent at the spa and the sexual acts performed on them. The posts also described the women who performed the acts.
Posts claimed some of the girls working at the spa also worked at similar spa's in the Houston area, leading investigators to believe possible organized crime and human trafficking were taking place.
Throughout the year of surveillance, police never saw a female client enter or leave the "spa." The majority of the windows in the spa were covered with tin foil to keep people from looking in or out.
On April 25, 2018 police surveilled the area for a little over an hour. During which, three men were stopped after leaving the spa and admitted to being involved with sexual acts and contact with employees of the spa.The men spent over $60 for approximately 20 minutes inside the spa.
On several occasions, officers conducting surveillance at closing time saw Asian and Hispanic females leaving the business after hours. They followed the women to local hotels they appeared to be staying in. This indicated to investigators that they do not have a permanent residence here in Beaumont, and were from somewhere else.
Records revealed the business belonged to Helen Hien Nguyen of Beaumont. She was never seen entering or exiting the business.
Aside from the police investigation, three people submitted anonymous tips stating they thought prostitution may be taking places due to the activity they had seen coming and going.
Due to the nature of what was taking place inside, no officer was allowed to attempt going inside to try and get evidence of prostitution.
The spa has since been shut down and is still under investigation.
Surveillance video retrieved from the spa is still being reviewed. All customers of the "spa" this past year are on camera.
The state department is working to determine if the women working in the spa were victims of human trafficking or willing participants.