PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – As part of an investigation into an underage minor being trafficked for sex, the FBI and Portland Police executed a search warrant at a downtown strip club.
The FBI confirmed the search warrant was executed November 16 at Club Rouge, located at Southwest 4th and Stark.
In a prepared statement, the FBI said: “This search warrant is part of an ongoing investigation into the sexual exploitation of minors and is a follow-on to Operation Cross Country X (10), which is a program spearheaded by the FBI and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to target the criminal enterprises responsible for the commercial sex trafficking of children.”
The case is being investigated by the Beaverton Police Department.
In October, the FBI executed a search warrant at Cheetahs strip club in Salem after learning that an underage girl had been allowed to dance nude at the establishment.
Speaking by phone on Thursday, Eric Forbes, the club’s director of operations, adamantly denied any misconduct.
He told KOIN 6 News the investigation began when a female dancer presented herself to be older than 18. When the club discovered that she was using fake ID, they immediately removed her from the club. He said the female had a real ID and the photo looked like the female she claimed to be; however, it turned out to be someone else’s ID, according to Forbes.
“It’s never our intention to have minors performing,” Forbes said. “We are very proud of how we operate.”
He said the club has good relationships with police, the OLCC and the downtown business community.
“We never want to ruin that relationship” Forbes said.
Forbes told KOIN 6 News sex trafficking is something that occurs in the industry. He said Club Rouge does everything in its power to prevent it from occurring at its establishment. He said during the hiring process, they have staff perform name and age verification.
Forbes said sex trafficking “is not our way of doing business…and that these entertainers are the bloodline to our success, and we respect them.”
The club has also put on anti-sex trafficking seminars, Forbes said.
He said the FBI and Beaverton Police came in “and spent enough time to go through the records” but let the club remain open.
Forbes said that’s an indication they committed no wrongdoing. He also said the investigators told them Club Rouge was running a clean operation.
If anyone has information on minors dancing at Club Rouge, or any other strip club in the Portland Metro area, please contact Detective Chad Opitz, who assigned to the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force, at 503-526-2674.