Los Angeles County aims to crack down on human trafficking at massage parlors

Josh Haskell Image
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
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Massage parlors look like normal businesses on the outside, but the L.A. County sheriff's officials say many are engaged in human trafficking and prostitution.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Massage parlors are scattered throughout Los Angeles County. They look like normal businesses on the outside, but sheriff's officials say many of the establishments are engaged in human trafficking and prostitution.

"90 percent to 95 percent of the time that we perform an undercover investigative operation at a massage parlor, and those are usually based on complaints or tips, we determine that a prostitution offense has occurred," said sheriff's Capt. Chris Marks.

That's why the county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to draft regulations for massage parlors, an industry that supervisors say has been operating without scrutiny. The ordinance would apply to businesses in unincorporated parts of the county.

"Staff will be trained to not only check for health and safety compliance, but also for signs of human trafficking," said Supervisor Janice Hahn. "Routine inspections will help us identify trafficking already taking place and deter it in the future."

The ordinance was co-authored by Hahn and Supervisor Hilda Solis. The county health department would work closely with sheriff's department to crack down on any illegal activity inside the businesses.

"There's so many of them, it overwhelms our resources," Marks said. "Any help we can get from any county department on inspections and violations, we want."