Police raid Chinatown massage parlor

June 12, 2008 4:11:06 PM PDT
Four alleged prostitutes in Chinatown operated out of this non-descript building near the corner of 13th and Vine. It's one of dozens the city intends to shut down. Chief Inspector William Colarulo says Philadelphia's police commissioner, Charles Ramsey and Mayor Michael Nutter are well aware of the city's anti-prostitution law, and want to strictly enforce it.

Police say today's raid is just one of dozens of so-called massage parlors concentrated in the Chintown area.

They acted on a tip today and sent in undercover officers.

As soon as they were allegedly offered sex, other officers moved in and arrested the four women inside.

"Everybody knows what's going on," Colarulo said.

People who live and work in the neighborhood watched from the sidelines as police converged on the alleged whorehouse.

They weren't surprised when police rounded up the women who work here.

"We were in the back and saw them move in.," said Patricia Norris of Mount Airy. "One tried to get away, but the officer caught her."

Police say the illegal sex trade is hiding in plain sight, right on the edges of Center City.

They advertize in newspapers as massage parlors, but the police say they are houses of prostitution.

This one has operated in the past as the Rainbow Massage Parlor.

Police have shut it down before, but, like others, it just reopened under another name.

They say this is anything but a victimless crime.

"Prostitution breeds other crime. It's our intention to stop it.," said Colarulo.

"Immigration agents were also here for the raid, since many of the women who work the sex trade are illegal aliens, some even here against their will. The police say this is just the start of a long hot summer for the sex trade