Today, a growing concern among lawmakers is human trafficking, which occurs when someone is transported from one area to another and forced to perform work or sexual services for others. One type of business that has been receiving much attention for its role in continuing this offense is massage parlors.
Under Texas Penal Code 20A.02, a person commits human trafficking when they:
- Knowingly recruit, transport, entice, harbor, or use any other means to get an adult or child from one area to another to make them engage in forced labor or sexual conduct;
- Get payment or another benefit from obtaining the person;
- Force or coerce them to participate in prostitution, promotion of prostitution, aggravated promotion of prostitution, or compelling prostitution;
- Receive some type of benefit for forcing the person to engage in sexual conduct
Depending on the circumstances, this offense could be charged as a second-degree or first-degree felony. A first-degree felony conviction carries with it 5 to 99 years in prison and/or a maximum $10,000 fine.
Alleged Prostitution and Trafficking at Massage Parlors
Earlier this year, the news blew up with reports about a spa in Jupiter, Florida, where the managers were accused of human trafficking. Law enforcement officials investigated the parlor for months before bringing charges. They searched through dumpsters, scoured the Web, and installed video surveillance cameras on the premises.
The Orchids of Asia day spa was just one of many being investigated, but there was a lot of coverage on this business because one of the men charged with solicitation of prostitution for visiting the establishment was the New England Patriots owner. The media attention it received shed light on the number of massage parlors in the U.S. that are merely fronts for trafficking schemes and brothels.
In October of 2019, vice, narcotics, and police officers raided Number 1 spa in Dallas, Texas. After a months-long investigation, they arrested two women and charged them with aggravated promotion of prostitution. Under Texas Penal Code 43.03, a person could be accused of committing this offense for knowingly managing an institution that employs two or more prostitutes. It is a first-degree felony. If the women are convicted, they could be looking at up to 99 years of incarceration.
Investigators allege that several women were living in two back rooms in the spa, sleeping on rubber mats. In other places in Number 1, investigators said they found bowls with gels and boxes of tissues. Some had condom wrappers in them.
The investigators believe the women were coerced into coming to America with the promise of jobs. However, once the women were here, they were forced to engage in sexual conduct in exchange for payment.
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