Tampa massage spa closes following anti-human trafficking protests, 8 On Your Side investigation

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – One of the Storefronts for Sex 8 On Your Side has been investigating on Tampa’s Kennedy Boulevard since April has closed for business. 

The FL Bay Spa shut its doors about a month ago after repeated sidewalk demonstrations by the Clean Up Kennedy anti-human trafficking group and a number of news reports by 8 On Your Side. Friday afternoon, customers were still showing up at the spa’s back door, unaware it had closed.

We revealed in October the property belongs to Rick Barcena, a Tampa city official who serves on the Code Enforcement and Public Nuisance Abatement Board.

Last year, police discovered prostitution on Barcena’s property in a business which was then operating as “Kim’s Spa.” Barcena received a letter from police threatening to bring him in front of the very board he serves on to answer for the alleged prostitution.

Friday, “for rent” signs covered the front of the former spa business and referred would-be tenants to Barcena’s office. When we called Barcena, he told us to contact his attorney and hung up. His attorney, Anthony Arena, did not return our calls.

It’s not clear why the FL Bay Spa business closed, but Clean Up Kennedy leader Joe Manson is happy it did.

“It’s another good step,” Manson said. “Any one of those places that shuts down doesn’t have women being exploited anymore.”

Someone slashed the tires on Manson’s car and two other vehicles belonging to his parents Christmas Eve. The entire family has been outspoken against the sex trade they believe goes on inside the Asian massage spas on Kennedy and elsewhere in the city.

Tampa police said Thursday they are treating the vandalism as a criminal mischief complaint and have assigned a detective to investigate, but it is too soon to say whether it was an act of retribution by someone supporting the sex trade.

The Tampa City Council may vote next month on a measure that cracks down on prostitution and human trafficking in the city’s massage spas.

Manson and his parents all spoke in support of that measure at a Tampa City Council public hearing three days before surveillance video showed a woman wearing a shawl slashing their tires around 2:14 a.m. Christmas Eve in the driveway of their home.

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