Prostitution & Human Trafficking at Pickerington’s Massage Experts

Multiple search warrants were issued for Massage Experts in the Sherman Center commercial building on suspicion of prostitution, human trafficking and money laundering. Photo by Rachel Scofield

July 20, 2023
By Rachel Scofield

Pickerington Police Chief Tod Cheney said that his department began receiving tips and complaints about Massage Experts (1234 Hill Road North) shortly after the business opened in March 2022.

A joint investigation between the police department, the Fairfield County Sheriff’s office, the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, and Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) came to fruition on July 18, when multiple warrants were executed simultaneously to search the property.

Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, the warrants and the incident reports will not be released for some time. However, in a press release from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office, the business is suspected of human trafficking, prostitution and money laundering.

“I can’t provide tactics or details about the investigation at this point since we are still in the middle of it,” Cheney said.

The chief did say that his department did not believe that any kidnappings or juveniles were involved. 

“Speaking in general terms, these type businesses operate by making victims work in various ways such as through physical force, threats, trapping them into working off “debts” owned, or using threats to send them back to Asian countries they may be illegally in the US from.  All these options are being investigated and interviews are still being conducted on possible victims to see exactly what was transpiring,” Cheney said.

In addition to the Sherman Center business, detectives also searched a private residence on Cherry Blossom Drive in the Graystone subdivision. The State of Ohio Medical Board, Homeland Security Investigations, and the city of Pickerington Zoning Department are assisting in the investigation, as are victim advocates from The Network, a counter-human trafficking nonprofit, as well as Salvation Army and Grace Fellowship Church.

The joint investigation is ongoing and once completed will be referred to the appropriate prosecutors.

“The citizens of Pickerington and Violet Township should know we do not want these types of businesses in our community and will investigate fully any business we believe to be operating in such manner,” Cheney said. “We absolutely want to provide necessary assistance to those victims that are taken advantage of and will fully pursue all possible charges for those who are responsible for running these type businesses.”  

Anyone with direct information concerning any criminal activities at this business is encouraged to call the Pickerington Police Department at (614) 575-6911.