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Police records show history of officers going undercover to Atlanta spas on Piedmont

Their goal was to see if there were any illegal business operations underway.

ATLANTA — It's been one week since the fatal shootings at three spas left eight people dead. On March 16, four people were killed at a Cherokee County spa. The other victims died in shootings at Gold Spa and Aromatherapy Spa in Atlanta.

The shootings have drawn attention to the two Atlanta locations, which sit on a stretch of Piedmont Road with a history of ties to crime and illicit activity.

During a news conference last week, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms claimed no knowledge of anything questionable connected with the businesses.  

"As far as we know in Atlanta, these are legally operating businesses that have not been on our radar," she said.

However, 11Alive's investigative team, The Reveal, found records showing Atlanta Police had long been paying attention.

Atlanta Police Department reports show that both Gold Spa and Aromatherapy Spa were on their radar, especially during several undercover VICE operations from 2011-2014.

RELATED: One week since Atlanta spa shootings: What we know

A Reveal investigation found a history of police officers going under cover into both spas. Their goal was to see if there were any illegal business operations underway.

On 12 different occasions, police made arrests connected to charges of prostitution. Reports show officers also issued warnings violations of code ordinances, a lack of proper permits and massage licenses.

11Alive's calls to the registered business owners of the spa were not returned and the mayor's office referred us back to the police department when we asked for further clarification. The Reveal team is investigating dozens of records surrounding the shooting and will continue to update you on what we uncover. 

The Reveal is an investigative show exposing inequality, injustice, and ineptitude created by people in power throughout Georgia and across the country.  It airs Sunday nights at 6 p.m. on 11Alive.

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The 11Alive News team is dedicated to covering every aspect and angle of this tragedy. Our goal is to state the facts, shed light and offer understanding. But doing so requires confronting some uncomfortable and difficult truths.

Among those truths are the roles of:

  • Race 
  • Misogyny
  • Sex
  • Religion
  • Class
  • Crime
  • Addiction

There are urgent, important questions around these topics that investigators and prosecutors are considering as they piece together what happened. 

While reporting on these details may be upsetting to people, we, as a community, also play a role in choosing to face or ignore certain aspects of this tragedy. By addressing those factors, we hope to shine a light on the stigma some of the victims may have faced as well as reveal, report on or surface solutions.

11Alive is Where Atlanta Speaks and we welcome your point of view. Email whereatlantaspeaks@11alive.com with your thoughts.