BOSTON (AP) – The massage parlor sting in Florida that ensnared New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is a reminder of the human trafficking and abuse taking place across America behind the darkened windows of many brothels posing as spas.
Anti-trafficking activists say it also shows how hard the problems are to address. Police are building major cases to break up crime networks and focusing on arresting customers rather than prostitutes while states seek to better regulate the massage industry.
Stephanie Clark is executive director at Amirah, a nonprofit that runs a safe house for women escaping sex trafficking in Massachusetts. She says the multibillion-dollar industry is always 10 steps ahead of the authorities.
As many as 9,000 illegal massage parlors are believed to be operating in more than 1,000 cities nationwide.