Sex, labor trafficking took place at several massage parlors, skin care businesses in Ventura County

A months-long investigation into sex and labor trafficking at several massage parlors and skin care businesses in Ventura County resulted in the arrests of several members of the same family who operated the alleged brothels.  

According to the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, an investigation revealed the suspects who operated the businesses in Oxnard and Port Hueneme were family members living in Oxnard who targeted Mexican women from "underprivileged backgrounds" to work in these illicit businesses, some of whom were living in Southern California. 

Additionally, the suspects used third parties to recruit women to work in these illegal businesses, investigators said. Once recruited, sex ads were placed on the internet describing prices, type of sexual encounters available, and the businesses where the women were working. Investigators said the ads were updated every day and the trafficked women were rotated among the businesses owned by the suspects.

Officials said the suspects were also involved in narcotics trafficking.

The husband-and-wife team Ira and Erika Malarowitz operated the organization while the family members acted as middle management between the brothels, investigators said.

In total, the following five people were arrested: Ira Malarowitz, Erika Malsrowitz, Alma Monarrez-Diaz, Melesio Monarrez-Diaz, and Justin Malarowitz.

Search warrants were served at the suspected brothels on Aug. 19, officials said, and several trafficking victims were located, along with large sums of cash, suspected methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine, marijuana, and two ghost guns. 

The following eight suspected brothels were raided: Magic Therapy, Mission Spa, Souly Foot Massage, Sunshine Therapy, Burrito Express, 4200 block of Dallas Drive, 4300 block of Dallas Drive, and 600 block of Lazaro Lane. All businesses were located in Oxnard, except for Burrito Express in Port Hueneme.

Criminal proceedings are underway by the United States Attorney's Office. 

This was a multi-agency effort involving the Ventura County Human Trafficking Task Force, which is made up of members from several local departments including Oxnard, Ventura, santa Paula, and Simi Valley police departments, California Highway Patrol, and the Federal Bureau of investigation.
Detectives encourage victims to contact "211" or local law enforcement if you believe you are victim or know a victim of human trafficking to be connected with services.