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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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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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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Case Study

Lafayette, LA – IMI Case Study

On February 12, 2019, after a 17-month investigation, the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office raided five massage parlors, arresting eight owner/operators on charges of human trafficking and prostitution. In addition to the five IMBs, police searched three residences, confiscating $50,000 in cash, five vehicles, jewelry, phones, computers, and...

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COVID-19

Pandemic Threatens IMI Revenue and Long-Term Viability

The COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying closure of non-essential businesses have severely compromised the financial standing of illicit massage businesses (IMBs) across the country. Once considered a low-risk, highly profitable criminal enterprise, we assess nearly all IMBs will likely be approaching complete insolvency...

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