You might assume the offer comes in the form of a question. Toward the end of each massage, without forewarning, the women performing the massage touched or tickled the male customers in a sexual manner at or near their genitals.
In each tape-recorded interaction, the masseuse did not ask explicitly if the man wanted her to perform a sex act. But the men said each woman made clear one was in the offing.
PART 1: Iowa is a hot spot for trafficking in the illicit massage industry, but prosecutions are rare. PART 2: Care about human trafficking? This Urbandale man did something about it.
In the past year, Des Moines police made major arrests of sex traffickers — including seven people indicted last summer in a ring that included 26 victims. But no major arrests for sex trafficking, racketeering, prostitution or money laundering have happened related to illicit massage parlors in Iowa's capital city.
In the past two months, stings at massage parlors in Florida and Washington have yielded dozens of arrests tied to suspected sex trafficking operations. In the unusually large sting Feb. The Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, one of the law enforcement agencies involved, said in the warrant application that central Florida has seen an increase in "Asian themed massage parlors," which were "typically fronts for prostitution and money laundering" that "pose a health risk to the general public for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
In another large bust that resulted in 26 women being freed from trafficking in Seattle, investigators found the women had come from China with the hope of making money to support their families overseas.
The women told police they replied to what they thought were legal advertisements, but found they were false when they got to the United States. The alleged victims were prostituted up to 20 hours a day, and their movements were restricted and monitored by those in charge of the criminal operations, police said. But such investigations take considerable resources and time: The Seattle operation was three and a half years in the making, police said.
At least 13 Asian massage or reflexology parlors, most cash-only businesses, are advertising in Des Moines, Watchdog found. The cities of Urbandale and Johnston have managed to shut down nearly all illicit massage parlors in their jurisdictions using local ordinances similar to others passed around the state in the past two years. In December, Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert said publicly that local police would begin doing more to shut down operators who lacked valid state s.
Wingert said enforcement would come through compliance checks or public complaints. Support reporters who bring you news that matters.
Paul Parizek said. Watchdog initiated the visits this month to the three parlors to see if they shared the same characteristics as others found to be involved in illicit crime.
One of the masseuses, who appeared to be in her early 50s, said she came from New York and had lived in Des Moines a month. The third said she had come from China, lived in the U. All the women pressed the men for tips.
Only one took tips by credit card.
Watchdog is not naming the locales because none faces any kind of official sanction to date. But Des Moines police were informed of the locations and alleged criminal activity. We work closely with agencies and organizations who can provide these victims with support resources, while we investigate the case.
A bevy of research and past criminal investigations have shown that the largely immigrant women who work in illicit massage parlors — which are now estimated at roughly 9, across the U. The vast majority have come from China or South Korea, speak little or no English, are mothers in their mids to late 50s, and carry debts or face other extreme financial pressures, according to Polaris. Experts say the women working have different arrangements with their employers, but many work only for tips.
Some are charged fees by their employers to work at the spa. Most are driven to and from work by their employers.
But Markey says to date, most law enforcement in Iowa act on complaints and fail to initiate investigations into the larger criminal organizations at work. InColeman and other council members began pushing the city to do more about the growth of the industry.
On Feb. Under different names, massage businesses there have been the subject of dozens of website reviews since at least The building that houses the business, and several others in the area, is owned by Waukee businessman George Clayton, who has not been responsive to concerns raised by city officials and the neighborhood association.
But that business reopened after showing police someone at the business had a state to practice massage.
Lee Rood's Reader's Watchdog column helps Iowans get answers and ability from public officials, the justice system, businesses and nonprofits. Contact her at lrood dmreg.
Facebook Twitter. Watchdog sent customers into three Des Moines massage parlors. Here's what happened.
Massage or reflexology parlors, often tied to the sex trafficking industry, have proliferated in the Des Moines metro. The city's police chief has vowed to do more to shut down und operators. Show Caption.
Hide Caption. Neighbor spends 18 months to close illicit massage parlor.
Jim Townsend worked for 18 months to close down an illicit massage parlor that was operating next to his business in Urbandale. Asian massage parlors booming in Iowa.
Kellie Markey is working to stop sex trafficking in Des Moines. Share your feedback to help improve our site!
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