New York City massage parlors that ensure “happy endings” lay at the heart of the international human trafficking schemes, normally involving underage girls and illegal immigrants. These businesses serve as a front for prostitution and human trafficking rings. Despite numerous crackdowns in 2014 by city police forces, they are still multiplying by the dozens.
Criminal activity is rampant in these types of establishments, ranging from prostitution to extortion to statutory rape, sexual assault, slavery, etc. According to investigative reports conducted by Staten Island Live, such sex shops escape scrutiny from authorities thanks to websites like Backstage.com. Traffickers and owners alike can modify and update their advertisements on a daily basis, thus keeping their illegal activities under the radars of law enforcers.
Some people misguidedly believe that these sex spas largely commit “victimless” crimes, citing that many sex parlors are operated entirely by female workers. While law enforcers affirm that sex spas are largely staffed by women, a majority of these women are forced to reside at the parlor and are often minors. Illegal immigrant workers are often threatened with deportation should they disobey. These establishments are far from victimless. At the very least, such industries breed indentured servitude and sex slavery.
On April 2017 in Staten Island, the New York Police Department arrested 11 people on prostitution charges and of the 11, five of the alleged criminals did not possess U.S. citizenship, five listed their work address as their primary residence and one woman revealed herself as being of Asian/Pacific Islander descent.
“Unfortunately, we know that this is a human trafficking issue, it’s not just prostitution,” Assemblywoman, Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican candidate running for mayor, admitted to Staten Island Live. “Human trafficking is up 50 percent in the city alone — that’s a huge red flag that this issue is permeating and it needs to be addressed aggressively.”
According to New York City officials, lack of enforcement of immigration laws contributes to the growing human trafficking industry, as women are usually kidnapped from foreign countries and smuggled into the U.S. without detection. Traffickers and kidnappers then use fear tactics, such as threatening the lives of their victims’ families in order to coerce them into silence and subjugation.
Due to the secrecy of the industry, collecting an accurate statistical report of human traffickers and their victims is difficult. However, it is believed that thousands of women each year are smuggled into New York City from Latin America, and more recently China, in order to serve as sex workers.
While law enforcement has shut down six sex parlors in 2015, the battle is anything but over. A steady rise of reports detailing more suspicious spas have been called in, and any potential increase in these establishments is considered unacceptable and reprehensible to Malliotakis. Currently, the assemblywoman and law enforcers are joining forces to combat the underground human trafficking business.
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