Search warrants shed light on raided massage parlors in N. Augusta, Aiken

Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 6:50 PM EDT
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NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Last month, seven massage parlors in Aiken County were raided by the department of homeland security, SLED and other local law enforcement.

Six of them are in North Augusta, while one is in Aiken.

Details as to what investigators were searching for have been hard to come by, but we’ve uncovered documents sharing what they were looking for and more, including the possibility of victims of human trafficking.

From the rumbling of tires on the roads to blinking red and blue lights bordering the word “open.”

Everything appears it’s business as usual on the streets of North Augusta, but more than 60 pages of search warrants from SLED show those red letters, tell a different story.

Investigators laid out they were searching for any and everything- from legal massage licenses, travel documents, to contraception, lubricants, sex toys, lingerie, and other items specific to sex. The search also warranted any computer systems, electronic storage devices, external hard drives, USB storage devices, voicemails, text messages, call histories, videos, and IP cameras.

The report states it’s only valid for 10 days and all persons and vehicles located at the residence at the time of the search are subject to be searched.

We received six search warrants, and a seventh was requested through public record laws. The search warrants show blackened out sections of what was seized in the raids.

On each search warrant, investigators write they believe the businesses allow or possibly encourage employees to engage in prostitution of commercial sex.

Also, investigators write, based on experience they believe employees of Asian descent are possibly victims of human sex or labor trafficking.

Over the years, officials have responded to these locations for various calls from theft to criminal sex and forcible rape.

In March 2022, the narcotics unit met with an undercover officer at Ga Avenue Massage Therapy, the same location law enforcement has received numerous complaints about concerning inappropriate acts. After multiple attempts for oral sex, the masseuse continued to decline. Only charging the informant $60 for a 30 minute massage.

In April 2023, reports show at Lisa’s Therapeutic Massage, a man reported two women wanted to massage him. While he was laying on his stomach in a towel, he said the female massaging him tried to take off his underwear. The woman continued to make comments to him and when he turned over she started touching his genitals.

After the manager apologized he decided not to press charges.

We reached out to several of the businesses who declined to comment on the investigation.

SLED is still asking those in the community if you know something to please speak up and contact them.