HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – A Miami woman is behind bars, accused of operating four Broward County massage parlors as fronts for prostitution.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office said it arrested Maricela Ramirez, 47, on Thursday after an investigation that also involved detectives with the Hollywood Police Department.
They say Ramirez’s female employees solicited sex for money at G-Spa in Pembroke Park, Luna Azul Spa in Hollywood, Tan Spa in Hollywood and Innovative Spa in Pompano Beach.
Ramirez faces charges of deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution, money laundering and the use of a two-way device to facilitate a felony, BSO said.
BSO Sgt. Sira Arroyo said she is investigating whether any of the spa employees were forced into sex work, which could lead to trafficking charges.
“What we look for is signs that someone is being forced and coerced,” Arroyo said. “At that point, we depend on the victim to tell us what is happening because their testimony is essential in these cases. At this point, we cannot determine if there is human trafficking here.”
Arroyo added that sometimes that information from potential trafficking victims comes days or weeks after initial interviews.
The sheriff’s office said Hollywood police began investigating alleged prostitution at Luna Azul Spa in 2019 and that warrants were served Thursday at Ramirez’s home and the four businesses.
She was booked into a jail in Miami-Dade County and is expected to be taken to Broward to face the charges, authorities said.
BSO urges anyone who suspects human trafficking to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888, or to text “HELP” or “INFO” to 233733 or call the BSO non-emergency number at 954-764-4357. For more information, go to humantraffickinghotline.org.