The latest prostitution bust at several Honolulu massage parlors highlighted a rarely seen department of the Prosecutor's Office.

The Investigative Service Division is one tool used to target this type of criminal activity.

Now, landlords are also being enlisted to help battle these illegal businesses.

Relaxation spas at the A Y Wong building in Ala Moana were busted by city investigators who gathered evidence, got search warrants, then made arrests....just like regular police officers.
So why doesn't the Prosecutor's Office simply use Honolulu police officers?

"We focus mainly on the massage parlors,  HPD was not focusing on the massage parlors," said Acting Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Nadamoto.

The Prosecutor's Office has 3-4 full time investigators looking into these illegal businesses and has busted 22 of them over the past 3 three years.

"We are closing down massage parlors. We have closed down a number of them, and as word gets out people will be much more leery about going to them."

During those busts,15 people were arrested for prostitution, which is a petty misdemeanor. But nearly double that number were arrested for racketeering, which is a class B felony that carries much more jail time and is a bigger deterrent to committing crimes.

"You have to prove people know what is going on in there. Everybody you charge they say, 'I don't know what is going on in there'."

What is going on, at these businesses? 

Nadamoto said workers are brought in, but many are unlicensed in massage.

"Most are foreigners, and foreign nationals who have been naturalized citizens from China, and from Korea. Koreans are the ones we are finding mostly or lately."

Nadamoto told KITV4 News the parlors themselves are not set up for typical therapeutic treatments.

"You almost always have the proverbial red light, you have the shower and you look at the table and it is not a massage table." 

It is not hard to figure out what they are offering by their on-line ads, and there is no shortage of sites advertising for escorts or sensual massage.

Just busting businesses isn't enough to slow Hawaii's prostitution industry, because parlors and workers can simply move to another location.
So the Prosecutor's Office is also letting landlords know if they don't do more to stop illegal activity in their buildings, they could lose their properties.

"If you open up an illegal business once, twice, three times, you are starting to develop a case. So we can put the landlord on notice that he can't do this, or we will put out nuisance abatements and take over the property."

 Already, that extra step of getting property managers or owners to step in, seems to be working. The property manager at the A Y Wong building reportedly notified not just the 3 relaxation spas busted last month, but all 5 in the building, they would have to be out in 60 days.