The massage parlours operating as illegal brothels
WARNING: Explicit content
ILLEGAL brothels masquerading as therapeutic massage parlours are using encrypted messaging apps to draw in customers and quickly shifting locations when police targeting the "Mr Bigs" come knocking.
Customers on one online adult services forum openly discussed booking workers from a Brisbane southside massage parlour said to offer "extras" via Chinese mobile phone message app WeChat.
"We have different Asia girls Everyday (Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong China) 20-28 yrs old are here for you (sic)," a website spruiking the same Runcorn parlour said, adding its WeChat ID number.
Another Brisbane southside parlour used women in revealing tops and lingerie to advertise services on Facebook in the weeks leading up to a police operation embroiling its new owner.
Illegal operators are also playing a cat-and-mouse game with police, shutting down when detectives start investigating only to quietly re-open down the street under a different name.
The state's Prostitution Enforcement Task Force officers are working to disrupt cut-price prostitution rackets and unmask organised crime figures pulling the strings.
For taskforce boss, detective Senior-Sergeant Kev Groenhuijzen, unravelling cases involving any organised crime links behind the illicit massage parlour sex trade is its toughest challenge.
"The thing with prostitution is because it spreads so far and so wide so quickly, you can set up a business anywhere, anytime and attract clientele the moment you start advertising," he said.
"It's a here today gone tomorrow sort of industry.
"It sets up very quickly and it can be pulled down very quickly.
"Our focus is on major and organised crime. I want to know who is pulling the strings behind those that are working upfront.
"But that's not to say there is always somebody behind the scenes."
The taskforce last month conducted search warrants with Australian Federal Police and Border Force on four massage parlours across Ashmore, Southport and Molendinar.
Five people were charged with eight offences in connection with two parlours, including the Malaysian-born owner of a massage shop at a unit at 34 Dominions Rd, Ashmore. Further charges are expected as a result of the operation, according to police.
It followed raids on massage parlours at The Gap - just metres from a police station and high school - and Rocklea on Brisbane's southside in March.
A total of 11 people were charged with 17 offences from the Gold Coast, Rocklea and The Gap operations, but the courts have so far issued just $3650 in fines, with only four cases still pending.
For Sergeant Groenhuijzen, though, it is as much about disrupting crime as the court result.