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Feds Crack Down on New National Security Threat: Unlicensed Massages
10-30-2017, 03:50 AM
Post: #1
Feds Crack Down on New National Security Threat: Unlicensed Massages
Feds Crack Down on New National Security Threat: Unlicensed Massages
Oct. 26, 2017 Reason.com
American police are currently obsessed with enforcing exactly which body parts can be massaged and by whom.

Every week, headlines from across the country announce undercover operations, often months long, dedicated to catching and punishing people for offering erotic massages. And the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are increasingly involved in the crackdown. "Happy endings" have apparently become a matter of national security.

Often these stings don't even turn up prostitution, let alone the "human trafficking" they're ostensibly concerned with stopping. But massage-parlor owners and employees wind up punished anyway, for things like minor building-code violations or employing people without state massage licenses. And the raids tend to hit immigrant entrepreneurs and workers the hardest, as they're most likely to be faced with barriers in obtaining local training and licenses, and to suffer from stereotypes about sex work and sex-trafficking.

This alliance of local cops, federal immigration agents, and federal detectives is nothing new, of course. As I explained in a Reason feature on "Operation Cross Country," they've been teaming up to monitor and round-up immigrant sex workers since the turn of the 20th century. It has waxed and waned in urgency over the decades since. But the Bush/Obama panic over prostitution has combined with Donald Trump's war on undocumented immigrants to intensify the efforts.

Once again, the FBI, local police departments, immigration agents, and politicians are making it a priority to round up sex-selling women, especially immigrant women—and massage parlors serve as a favorite target of that panic. Let's take a look at some examples of how this has been playing out across America this month...

Lots of examples but for Phoenix;
5-Month Investigation Into Nude Masseuse
Phoenix police spent five months investigating a middle-aged woman under suspicion of offering sensual massages from her home. The 46-year-old was arrested in early October, but police began the investigation in May. During this period, undercover cops visited her multiple times for nude massages, at $140–$160 per session, according to ABC15 Arizona. She allegedly offered to engage in unspecified sexual activity beyond that for an extra fee, which they declined.

With all this effort, they must have been on to something more, right? Enslaved masseuses in her basement? Mafia ties? Something? Nope, just a lady offering massages with a little extra to grown men who sought out her services. The only victim police allege in this case is a customer who left because she "scared" him when she entered the massage room naked.

The woman is charged with two counts of maintaining a house of prostitution, one count of prostitution, and one charge of manifesting an intent to commit prostitution.

Landlords Pay When S.F. Masseuses Violate Rules
In San Francisco, city prosecutors have been suing massage parlors out of business if workers there are arrested on prostitution charges. Landlords of the buildings where they operate are also be sued and fined.

In a recent settlement involving Queen's Health Center, massage-parlor owner was required to pay $195,000 to the city and is permanently forbidden from opening any other service-oriented business in San Francisco. The landlord of the building where Zxxx's massage business was located must pay the city $100,000 and cannot rent to another massage parlor or similar business for 10 years.

Now the city is suing another massage parlor where undercover stings have uncovered prostitution. "The lawsuit asks the court to close the business, sell off its fixtures, grant an injunction against both the property and business owners and levy monetary penalties," explains KCBS.

Stamping Out Inadequate Signage
The California city of Hemet recently went fishing for evidence of prostitution or human trafficking at the city's massage parlors. Finding instead small businesses operating exactly as advertised, code-compliance cops issued 44 violations for things like inadequate signage and unpermitted construction.

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