First Systematic Review of Massage Parlor Advertisements in Virginia Undefined Research Reveals Potential Human Trafficking Networks in Other States

TJI examines online advertisements for illicit massage parlors in Virginia; reports 102 illicit massage parlors in-state, 26 Virginia-based illicit massage parlors with suspected out-of-state networks-a potential 'red flag' for human trafficking

In 2011, the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force executed a mass raid against massage parlors suspected of illicit activity and potential human trafficking. Today, The Justitia Institute revealed findings from its report confirming that 86% of the parlors cited in that raid are still open and continue to post massage ads suggesting illicit services are still being provided. In fact, this analysis of online advertisements found 102 illicit massage parlors in Virginia, and 26 parlors with suspected out-of-state networks, spanning as far as Manila, Philippines. The report presents innovative methods for improving law enforcement response to illicit exploitation and human trafficking.

"Massage Parlors and Commercial ---: An Exploratory Study of Online Advertisements in Virginia" is the first rigorous systematic review of online advertisements for illicit massage parlors in Virginia and the first to apply such research in a way that attempts to identify networks, a potential 'red flag' for human trafficking syndicates.

Key findings of the report include:
• 102 suspected illicit massage parlors, with concentrations in Northern Virginia and Virginia Beach.

• 26 Virginia-based massage parlors with suspected out-of-state networks, a potential 'red flag' for human trafficking.

• Out-of-state network size ranged from 0-18, with the mean number of networks being 4. International suspected networks were identified in Philippines, Canada, and England.

• Current methods of human trafficking assessment may be limited in their ability to identify victims. Future research needs are discussed.

According to patterns identified in the report, primarily Asian women working in the illicit massage parlors arrive in San Francisco or New York, and are then moved to other locations, like the D.C. Metropolitan area, once acclimated to the illicit massage industry. Potential networks identified in the analysis tend to have locations in Virginia (26), California (11), New York (10), and Florida (9).

"Human trafficking is one of the most under-reported and under-prosecuted crimes plaguing the United States," said Dr. Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco, Executive Director of The Justitia Institute. "Providing law enforcement officers with innovative tools and empirical information on the illicit massage industry is needed to facilitate more informed decisions and evidence-based policies. This is the first report that systematically reviews the utility of advertisements for illicit massage in informing law enforcement. We hope the findings will encourage further research in this area and push legislators to take a closer look at the efficacy of human trafficking policies and practices in Virginia."

Until the embargo lifts, the full report is available by e-mail request only. Thereafter, the full report will be available online at:

As a follow up to this study, The Justitia Institute is planning to conduct an overlay analysis of illicit massage parlor advertisements, reported human trafficking victimizations, and human trafficking arrests.

*NOTE: Due to language barriers with the Newswire service, the general term "illicit" was used to describe activities that are discussed in greater detail in the report.