Raids at four area massage parlors in recent months resulted in the arrests of multiple women on prostitution and other charges. They think the cases could involve sex trafficking — with immigrant women being forced into the commercial sex trade. Authorities continue to investigate whether trafficking was involved in the local cases and no such charges have been filed. But they say the cases have the hallmarks of just that. At least three of the cases have been turned over to the U. Department of Homeland Security for further investigation.
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Ten people were arrested this week after raids on massage parlors in Colonie as part of what Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said will be a continuing crackdown on human trafficking. Those arrested during raids at four locations face charges related to prostitution or unauthorized practice of a profession. Those accused of prostitution allegedly offered undercover officers sexual services for a fee. The other charges relate to performing massages without the required state license.
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Brothels posing as massage parlors and Asian spas have been part of the American landscape for decades, hidden in plain sight. But the Florida prostitution sting that ensnared New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft last week is a reminder of the human trafficking and abuse taking place behind the darkened windows of many of these storefronts — and how challenging they are to address. The case also highlights how police and prosecutors are increasingly using a broad range of approaches, including deeper investigations into wider criminal networks, crackdowns on online sites where johns trade detailed sex reviews and enforcement of stricter civil codes on the massage industry, anti-trafficking activists said. Most of the prostitutes are women from China and South Korea in their mids to late 50s who have entered the country illegally, are deeply in debt and are drawn into sex work through a combination of lies, threats and other forms of coercion, the organization said. The massage parlor in Jupiter, Florida where Kraft, a year-old Massachusetts billionaire, was videotaped engaging in sex acts is typical of the model.