Northeast Tarrant

Closed massage parlor was on list of suspected illicit businesses near schools

City officials shut down the Oriental Wellness Spa in Richland Hills in March for several code violations and an investigation of prostitution in the business.
City officials shut down the Oriental Wellness Spa in Richland Hills in March for several code violations and an investigation of prostitution in the business. ramirez@star-telegram.com

A massage parlor shut down last week by city officials was one of the suspected illicit businesses near public schools named in a study released earlier this year by Children At Risk.

City officials closed Oriental Wellness Spa on Glenview Drive because of several code violations, and police said they believe there was prostitution happening at the business.

Oriental Wellness is about 0.1 of a mile from Jack C. Binion Elementary School, which is across the street from St. John the Apostle Catholic School.

No one associated with the business had been arrested as of Wednesday.

One adult woman was the only suspect in the investigation, Capt. Sheena McEachran said in a telephone interview.

"There are no other suspects," McEachran said. "We're still trying to determine where these women came from."

Police did not say how many women, described only as adult females, were involved. Investigators believe the women were likely victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

Some online advertisement for Oriental Wellness at 7530 Glenview Drive noted the business had "New Hot Girls" and customers could experience "allure, sexy, amazing relaxation."

The owner of the business could not be reached Wednesday.

One of the code violations against Oriental Wellness involved using the business as a place of residence, McEachran said.

Acting on tips and a Star-Telegram story in April on Texas children attending public schools within 1,000 feet of suspected illicit businesses, police began an investigation with the assistance of a team from the McLennan County Sheriff's Office in Waco.

"They had officers who have had experience in investigating human trafficking, so we asked for their help," McEachran said.

Police and city officials executed a search warrant Friday and shut down the Oriental Wellness Spa.

Oriential Wellness Spa.jpg
A cease and decist order is on the Oriental Wellness Spa in Richland Hills which was shut down Friday. ramirez@star-telegram.com Domingo Ramirez Jr.

Earlier this year, Children At Risk, a Houston-based educational advocacy organization, identified 689 suspected illicit massage businesses in Texas using data scraped from an online website for massage businesses in which users post reviews that include sexually explicit acts received at businesses.

In an April interview with the Star-Telegram. Charlotte Carlisle, managing director of Children At Risk for North Texas, said the study also revealed questionable businesses scattered throughout suburban areas, including Arlington, Richland Hills and Benbrook.

There are a total of 55 schools in Texas within 1,000 feet of such businesses, the study states. Additionally, mapping reveals that these businesses are often scattered in middle- and upper-class neighborhoods.

Children At Risk identified 52 suspected illegal massage businesses in Tarrant County. Some of these are within 1,000 feet of a public school. One of these alleged businesses located within 1,000 feet of public schools was an educational facility operated by the Fort Worth school district at the county's juvenile detention center on Kimbo Road.

There are four Fort Worth schools within a half-mile of illegal massage parlors: Bonnie Brae Elementary, Charles Nash Elementary, Springdale Elementary and Leonard Middle School.

In Arlington, several schools were located near questionable massage businesses, including International Leadership of Texas High School. That campus is a public charter school located in the 4900 block of South Bowen Road. To check a school's proximity to a questionable massage business go to: www.childrenatrisk.org/human trafficking near schools/.

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This report contains information from Star-Telegram archives

Domingo Ramirez Jr.: 817-390-7763,@mingoramirezjr
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