JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Seven women, who range in age from 27 to 53, were arrested this week on prostitution charges during a citywide sting, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Five of the arrests occurred Tuesday in areas across town, including Jacksonville’s Westside, Northwest Jacksonville, the Brentwood neighborhood and near Philips Highway.
According to the arrest reports, the women, several of whom had been previously arrested on prostitution and drug charges, were busted when an undercover detective posed as a customer.
The next day, two others were arrested on prostitution charges at massage parlors on Philips Highway.
Employees of neighboring businesses said one of the parlors was often open well beyond the posted hours of operation and that many suspicious-looking men would show up in the parking lot, where they would wait for the massage therapist to come out and escort them into the building.
Peng Guirong, 53, was arrested Wednesday after she offered an undercover officer more than just a back rub at one of the massage parlors on Philips Highway, according to police.
Investigators also determined that she was not a licensed massage therapist. Employees of nearby businesses said they suspected the office space to be a front for prostitution.
“We’ve always got a weird vibe from the place next door -- seeing only men going in. And the woman working would always wear scandalous clothing with lace tops and just a black bra underneath,” said Kourtney Johnston, who works next door.
Neighbors said the place was a magnet for men looking for something other than a massage.
“The ones late at night would always have their phone and they would show the lady and the lady would be, like, 'All right, let’s go in,'" said Scottie Vermaelen, who also works next door.
IMAGES: 7 arrested in prostitution sting
Another massage parlor is located just down the road. That's where Min Xiurong, 48, was arrested Wednesday on a prostitution charge, police said.
New4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said these types of businesses are popping up across the city,
“People go into these places knowing for the most part the type of business (of) they do because the way they advertise, sort of underground," Smith said.
Smith added that many prostitutes posing as massage therapists often advertise on websites such as Craigslist.
Here are the names of the seven arrested this week and the charges they face: