We monitor and fact-check media coverage of human trafficking and share the top cases with you from each week. A broad view of what is happening across the country can be translated into action, allowing us to collectively change the system and the public narrative. Why don’t we know more about the Atlanta shooting? The venues for the shooting were located in the red light district of Atlanta. And the shooter drove past numerous commercial sex venues like strip clubs and adult stores before hand selecting his three targets, all Asian run and staffed venues. The Gold Spa employees lived in the same city, and a group traveled back and forth between their homes and the spa every three days to a week. Some women’s home addresses and work addresses were both listed at the massage parlor. “They were isolated and would eat and sleep over there in the spa,” said Lee Sang-yeon, president of the local media Atlanta K. “They had very poor working conditions.” While there are strong indicators of trafficking in these venues, we cannot say for certain whether the women were victims of trafficking. Robert Long erased their ability to tell their story. What we do know is the typical reality shared by hundreds of survivors, and encountered in hundreds of more investigations.
Illicit massage venues are open late in the evening and victims are sometimes on call 24 hours a day to serve customers. We know that women trafficked in these venues are often compelled through debt bondage, threats of reputational shame or even violence, controlled movement (including living at the trafficking venue, or housing controlled by the trafficker), lack of understanding of the U.S. (including sometimes where exactly they are),and fear. Women are frequently from China and South Korea, with a subset of trafficking networks exploitingThai and Latin American victims. They are often mothers, with an average age of 45-70, who are attempting to support their families.
Check out our blog posts on Massage Parlor Trafficking: FACTS AND STATISTICS and Indicators that a massage parlor is engaging in commercial sex and potential human trafficking and join the anti-trafficking movement. These women’s lives matter — there are thousands still living in the reality of this exploitation, watching our response, and they all matter. This sex buyer who took these women’s lives viewed their lives as inconsequential. We cannot do the same thing.
We cannot arrest potential victims and then expect their cooperation in criminal cases. These arrests also limit survivors’ options; these victims often cannot obtain housing, livable wages, and other basic needs with arrests and convictions on their records.
Georgia The police made prostitution arrests at one of the spas in the attacks several years ago. Between 2010-2016, the Georgia legislature was refining and passing the state’s suite of anti-trafficking laws. From 2011-2014, Atlanta PD was conducting vice stings at Gold Spa and other parlors focused on penalizing people engaged in commercial sex, but not yet emphasizing exploitation or trafficking. Between 2011-2014, the massage therapists arrested at Gold Spa charged $60 for a massage and offered to perform a variety of sex acts for up to $400. The women were charged with prostitution, keeping a place of prostitution, masturbation for hire, and other offenses. It is unclear who owned the spa at the time of the arrests, nor if any investigation into owners or business practices was conducted. Police records show officers went to the businesses at least 21 times of the past 10 years.
this is a common approach to enforcement of commercial sex venues operating under the guise of massage in the majority of US jurisdictions. This focus on policing potential victims without first determining whether a trafficker or exploitation is involved reinforces that the women in the venues are the problem, and not the exploiters.
Texas New York woman arrested for prostitution at Abilene massage parlor A New York woman is behind bars in Taylor County after getting busting during a prostitution sting at an Abilene massage parlor. Ling Ding, 49, was arrested at a parlor and then released from jail after posting a $500 bond for misdemeanor prostitution.
Massage parlor trafficking is an insidious form of trafficking that is incredibly organized and difficult to eradicate across the nation.
New York Flushing Couple Indicted for Sex Trafficking Two Women From Korea When one of the victims arrived in the country, her passport was taken away and she was forced to work at a bar and different massage parlors. A couple of years later potential traffickers told her that her debt was paid and returned her passport. Then, about three years later in 2020, they found the woman and told her she still had a bill to pay.
Indiana Woman’s 30-year federal sex trafficking sentence upheld on appeal A potential trafficker operated three massage parlors in northwestern Indiana that offered sexual services to customers. She enticed a Vietnamese woman to come to the Us and marry her friend. After the marriage, a victim was forced into prostitution.
Money is just one of the tools traffickers use when preying on victims. Often times, victims are in need of basics, such as a warm place to sleep or food to keep from going hungry or victims can be addicted to drugs or alcohol and traffickers exploit these needs.
Massachusetts 2nd woman pleads guilty to role in sex trafficking ring that preyed on heroin addicts Many women were recruited from the women’s jail in Chicopee, nearly all of them were addicted to heroin. Most of the victims were not allowed to keep any of the money they earned, and they were only permitted to obtain the drugs they needed. This form of trafficking is often dismissed as consensual exchanging of sex for drugs, and for this reason addiction is something specifically sought by traffickers as a form of control and coercion.We often have a predisposed idea as to what a trafficker looks like, and sometimes it isn’t what we think. Sometimes the exploiters are high powered or well-known members of our communities.
New York CEO of a private jet charter indicted on charges of child sex trafficking Paul Alexander of the Bronx, a registered sex offender, faces up to 50 years in prison if convicted of the top charges in the 17-count indictment. The businessman is accused of sexually abusing young girls and arranging for other men to have access to them for sex. He was arrested in December after an undercover operation and remains in custody. We are especially proud of our partners and agents who work so diligently to ensure justice endures. Three recent cases in partner jurisdictions this week were in Florida, Texas, and Mississippi.
Florida Orlando Man Indicted On Federal Human Trafficking Charges Collective Liberty was honored to be requested to provide intelligence and data support as part of this investigation. Working with partner jurisdictions we are able to support anti-trafficking efforts throughout the U.S. that leads to traffickers being held accountable, and survivors being supported.
Texas Two teen girls rescued, man arrested for human trafficking in Beaumont after hotline tip We want to highlight the continued wonderful work of partners in Beaumont, TX, who are tirelessly attacking human traffickers and locating their victims. “[If] there’s a victim in Southeast Texas right now who sees this air tonight, we want her to know that there are people who are willing to fight for you, who want to help and whose job it is to help,” Jefferson County Assistant District Attorney Kim Pipkin said in a 2019 interview.
Check out our CEO on the podcast on Crimes Against Women. In this first episode of the series, she sheds light on labor and sex trafficking in massage parlors in the U.S
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