Economics

What is the Illicit Massage Industry?

The Illicit Massage Industry (IMI) is one of the largest - and most networked - sex trafficking markets in the United States. We assess the IMI as of June 2021 was made up of over 11,000 illicit massage businesses (IMBs) across all 50 states...

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Illicit Massage Industry

Lack of Impact Data Hinders Efforts to Deter Sex Buyers

Decreasing the demand for commercial sex is often considered the most difficult effort to combat sex trafficking. However, no one really knows what can deter sex buyers, as the impact of deterrence tactics are almost never measured...

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Economics

The IMI - A Financial Baseline

Within the United States, the illicit massage industry operates as a largely unregulated, multi-billion-dollar transnational criminal enterprise. Conservative estimates of its total illegal revenue hover around $3.5 billion dollars, based on academic research and suspected revenue estimates for the approximately 10,000 IMI storefronts in the U.S.

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Illicit Massage Industry

Assessing Anti-IMB Ordinances

Cities that have successfully used ordinances to create an inoperable environment for illicit massage businesses (IMBs) as part of their anti-human trafficking efforts have a balance of effective prevention and strong enforcement measures...

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Illicit Massage Industry

Field Support impact assessment

This impact assessment of a partnership with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office describes Heyrick’s value added via our Field Support service.

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Data

Chinese Employment Agencies and the IMI

U.S.-based Chinese employment agencies identify domestic jobs for Chinese nationals seeking employment in the US. A number of Chinese victim workers first reported learning about the IMI from these agencies. We assess that sustained engagement and improved monitoring of these agencies could potentially impede IMI sourcing tactics.

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Illicit Massage Industry

Racism in the Illicit Massage Industry: The Sexual Stereotyping of Asian Women by U.S. Sex Buyers

When a shooter killed eight people at three illicit massage businesses in Atlanta in March 2021, the crimes were immediately linked to race. The shooter himself, however, claimed the crimes were not racially motivated, but were caused by his “sex addiction.” But the sexual stereotyping of Asian women in the United States is not new.

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Illicit Massage Industry

The Backdrop of Atlanta: Ignoring Illicit Massage Businesses Perpetuates Worker Vulnerability

While the tragic events of March 16 in Atlanta further exposed the Illicit Massage Industry (IMI) to the world, press coverage understandably focused on the shooting victims rather than the illicit nature of the businesses...

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Illicit Massage Industry

FAQs for Journalists - Putting Illicit Massage Businesses in Context

Many communities—including local journalists—are surprised when they find out that illicit massage businesses are operating in their area. At Heyrick Research, we frequently speak with reporters to give background about trafficking in the illicit massage industry. Here is a brief FAQ.

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Illicit Massage Industry

Prosecuting IMI Networks More Effectively

Prosecutors often face unappealing options when trying to bring illicit massage business owners to justice for their involvement in sex trafficking. Heyrick Research and Street Grace interviewed prosecutors around the country to identify underutilized means of building successful multi-charge cases against illicit massage industry networks...

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