SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Police made multiple arrests Thursday as part of an undercover operation investigating prostitution-related complaints at three Surfside Beach massage parlors.
According to a Surfside Beach Police Department news release, the operation targeted suspected prostitutes as well as the managers of the parlors.
Hua Min Liu, 54, of Little River and David Li, 54, of Little River were arrested at Sunrise Massage at 313 US 17 North and charged with prostitution and prostitution-related offenses.
Yingshu Li, 49, of Flushing, NY was arrested at Palm Massage at 520 US 17 South and charged with prostitution.
Guixiang Su, 57, of Surfside Beach was arrested at Juns Therapeutic Massage at 820 Surfside Drive and charged with prostitution.
"It is sort of a shame when you see these sleazy places come in and it's not hard to figure out what they're up to," said Dennis Corbett a local business owner.
He added he was glad the officers who ran the undercover operation caught the suspects.
"Having property in [the area], you don't want to see this type of stuff go on because it affects your values and it affects the danger issues that seem to follow," Corbett said.
Maureen McGrath, a neighbor who lives in the area, said she was surprised to hear about the arrests.
"I find it hard to believe that something like that could be going on in Surfside Beach when there is such a police presence here," she said, "They make it an effort to keep everything very, very safe."
McGrath said she is surprised the activity went on for as long as it did.
"This is a very isolated incident," she said, "Overall, I don't think this represents Surfside Beach, this doesn't represent what happens here, it doesn't represent the community. It's just one small thing that happened and once it gets cleared away, it's back to business as usual in Surfside Beach."
Surfside Beach police had the help of Horry County police during the undercover operation.
"These arrests should send a clear message that Surfside Beach is the family beach," said Interim Police Chief Kenneth Hofmann. "This activity is not legal or welcome here. It undermines our values as a community and only serves to attract a criminal element that erodes our quality of life and safety. We will continue to investigate these businesses through criminal laws, town codes and fire laws until it's just not worth it to stay. These investigations do not end with the arrests."
Hofmann said there was probable cause sufficient enough to make these arrests, but because the investigation is ongoing, specific details can't be released at this time.