By Ryan Lengerich
Rumors have persisted for months.
And Wednesday, four women were arrested and charged with promoting prostitution following an undercover police sting at “The Trucker Spa” 10 miles west of Tucumcari.
State police and other law enforcement officials obtained a warrant to search the green and white stucco building off Interstate 40 at exit 321 in Palomas.
Those arrested included spa owner Young K. Carpinello, 44, of Tucumcari, who was charged with promoting prostitution, accepting the earnings of a prostitute and conspiracy. Also arrested and charged were Jane Y. Yoh of California, Wu S. Yoo, 51, of Las Angelas and Myung H. Choi, 49, of Diamond Bar, Calif.
The spa, which sits about 150 yards across the Interstate 40 bridge from “Stuckey’s,” had been open for about a year. Stuckey’s manager Carolyn Birch said she met Carpinello and her husband when the spa opened. Birch said they, “seemed like real nice people.”
Birch said she took a tour of the spa before it opened and the inside was nice, but since then rumors have surrounded the trucker hangout.
“People would always ask what that thing is,” Birch said. “You hear rumors all the time.
“Everyone kept saying that that’s what it was going to be (a house of prostitution.)”
Court documents show police in early July began receiving information that the spa was promoting prostitution. Two agents first entered the building undercover on July 28.
According to the affidavit, agents returned and set up surveillance for about four hours. Birch said she noticed men outside Stuckey’s with binoculars.
Undercover offices reported they observed illegal activity related to prostitution during the investigation.
The officers then secured the location for a search warrant.
“We did seize several thousand dollars, video tapes and other documents to support that these ladies were running a house of prostitution,” said Maj. Daniel Lopez of the New Mexico State Police.
Lopez said the spa can’t be closed by police unless there is a court conviction.
Police said more arrests are expected. Those arrested on Wednesday were incarcerated at the Quay County Detention Center in Tucumcari. Yoh, Choi and Yoo are still being detained on $20,000 bond. Carpinella was released on bond.
Birch said local truckers have told her the spa had refused to serve locals. She was not surprised to hear about the sting because of constant rumors, but the owners didn’t seem like the type to cause problems.
“The husband is real quiet and she seemed really nice,” Birch said. “They really didn’t seem like the type of people who would do that.”