Kansas City area is home to dozens of illicit massage parlors, researchers say

July 19, 2018 - 7:16 am

Investigators in human trafficking say the problem is much closer to home than most people believe.

In a new KMBZ series, Tricked and Traded -- The Dark World of Human Trafficking, we learn that the problem comes in many forms.

Sex trafficking is an increasing problem across the country. Research from the University of Missouri Kansas City indicates there are 79 illicit massage parlors in the metropolitan area, said Emily Russel, executive director of the Missouri Human Trafficking Task Force.

"It's very well organized behind the scenes of illicit massage businesses," Russel said.

The massage parlors tend to stay open later hours in order to target a specific clientele. Many have locations that are advertised online.

"If you look at individuals who are being trafficked, those operations might take place in some of the fancier areas in incredible mansions in Kansas City, or the nicest hotels," Russel said.

Despite the occasionally opulent surroundings, the victims of human trafficking lead bleak lives.

"The women who are working in these situations are being forced to provide these sexual services by the traffickers who are running these operations," Russel said.

The customers often communicate online with people who share their interests. 

"Men are basically telling each other where to go to find sexual services and to purchase sexual services," Russel said.

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