AG initiative seeks to shut down human trafficking operations doubling as massage parlors
Kentucky Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Daniel Cameron is taking new steps to shut down human trafficking operations masquerading as massage businesses.
Cameron says his office’s program – dubbed the HOPE Initiative – is zeroing in on the trafficking networks that operate under the cover of legitimate businesses.
"These entities often appear to be licensed, reputable businesses. They claim to specialize in massage services, but in reality these are not legitimate businesses," Cameron explained. "Oftentimes what we find is that they specialize in the exploitation of vulnerable men and women and are just the latest iteration of organized crime."
The attorney general says since a task force began contacting landlords in Fayette, Bullitt, and Hardin counties, more than 60% have taken action to shut down illicit massage businesses on their property. But with the operations growing by 71% over the last four years, according to Cameron’s office, official say it’s going to take a concerted effort involving not just law enforcement.
"These things can pop up in anybody's community, and we need the community's help," Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers said.
Among the suspicious signs: businesses with all-male clientele, tinted or covered windows, or doors that require visitors to be buzzed in.
Anyone who believes an illicit massage business has set up shop in their area should contact local law enforcement. Landlords who have been contacted by the attorney general’s office should call 1-888-991-HOPE.