Commonly called massage parlors, illicit massage businesses (IMBs) that front for commercial sex operations have been ubiquitous in the American landscape for decades. While some keep a low profile, many others blatantly advertise “Asian gals,” or bear sexualized names like “Good Girl Spa.” In 2017, Polaris analyzed more than 32,000 cases of human trafficking from the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) and developed a classification system that identifies 25 distinct types of human trafficking in the United States.
By mapping and cross referencing numerous publicly available datasets, Polaris found more than 9,000 illicit massage businesses operating in America. They exist in every single state and revenues for these businesses total approximately $2.5 billion a year. Evidence gathered from the Hotline, from focus groups and from extensive case studies suggest that thousands of women are being trafficked in massage parlors in the United States on any given day.