Prince George's Co. officials respond to alleged illegal activities at banquet halls, nightclubs

A FOX 5 Investigation is getting the attention of officials in Prince George's County. We have been telling you about two banquet halls doubling as strip clubs. Inside those clubs, we found what appeared to be underage girls and other illicit activities.

Following our conversation Thursday with Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker and our repeated requests for interviews with officials, the county held a press conference to address issues brought up in our investigation.

And although Baker was a no-show, his staff laid out what the county response has been and then answered our questions.

For the first time since we first brought you our FOX 5 Investigation, representatives from several agencies in the county addressed issues uncovered in our story.

The county is referring to these as alleged activities in certain county banquet halls.

"We have been dealing with this issue for years," said Barry Stanton, deputy chief administrative officer for public safety in Prince George's County. "Dealing with violations in dance hall clubs is not new to this administration."

It is a problem we first brought you back in 1999. Prince George's County police were then already responding to these alleged allegations.

Fast forward 16 years and we are still asking the same questions.

"So it takes a shooting or a homicide to shut down one of these establishments?" we asked at the news conference.

"No, it does not," said Gary Cunningham, deputy director for the Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement. "It has to be a safety concern."

Our FOX 5 Investigative team went inside Irving's and Club Fuego in Prince George's County. Both clubs are licensed as banquet halls while also operating as full-fledged strip clubs.

We witnessed countless illegal activities, including fully nude dancers, women who appeared to be working and underage, and a woman in one of the back rooms of an establishment passed out and surrounded by men.

At Friday's meeting, we spoke with Daniel Irving, owner of Irving's.

"I don't have anything to say when it comes to sex trafficking because that's not a part of any issues that I can constantly think that would actually go on at any of the strips clubs," he told us.

We asked Irving about his licensing as a banquet hall.

He responded, "How long have I been open? You said 11 years? Then it's not an issue."

We asked him, "So if the laws change, you will apply for a new law and pay taxes accordingly?"

"Of course, if the laws change, I'm not going to do it," said Irving. "As of a matter of fact, if that was the case, we wouldn't be doing it."

Prince George's County police say they have not made any arrests or had any calls for service for prostitution or human trafficking at the two clubs we brought up.

Since 2011, the county says they have shut down 16 adult entertainment clubs for numerous violations and promised their constituents swift action in the coming weeks.

Related stories:

FOX 5 Investigates: Dangerous world of sex trafficking

Prince George's Co. residents demanding action from county on adult entertainment clubs

Legal loopholes keeping P.G. County from shutting down certain adult entertainment clubs

After FOX 5 Investigation, Rushern Baker to address concerns on adult entertainment clubs

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