Illicit massage businesses, commonly known as “massage parlors,” have been ubiquitous in the American landscape for decades. Today, new research finds an estimated 9,000-plus of these businesses are operating in every state in the country, with earnings totaling nearly $2.5 billion a year across the industry.
What is unique about this form of trafficking is that massage parlor traffickers actually go through the process of registering their businesses as if they were legitimate. Conceivably then, it should be relatively simple to determine the basics about these businesses — such as what products or services they provide and who ultimately controls and makes money from the business. The actual or “beneficial” owner would then in most cases be the trafficker and could be prosecuted as such.
In reality, the laws governing business registration are almost tailor-made for massage parlor traffickers to hide behind.