tv Sex Slaves - Massage Parlors MSNBC April 20, 2014 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
in san francisco and in cities from coast to coast, more and more massage parlors are moving into the business of sex for sale. >> do you know what they do here? >> massage? spa? >> a house of prostitution. >> behind iron gates like these, thousands of young women from asia and all across the world are bought and sold into sexual servitude. pleasing men on the hunt for a happy ending. >> he looks like he got what he wanted. look at that. >> this isn't just one or two girls.
these are thousands and thousands of girls being sold for sex all over the country every single day. >> tonight msnbc returns to san francisco and goes undercover with the human trafficking task force. >> he is in, he's in, he's in. >> as they fight to pull back the veil on this cruelest of parlor games. >> please pay me. >> and try to rescue the girls and young women trapped as sex slaves in the land of the free. >> every minute of their day is spent either being raped or waiting for the next man to show up who is going to rape them. standing guard at america's golden gate, the city of san
francisco is uniquely seasoned with asian influence. but the city by the bay has also imported another specialty from the orient. elicit massage parlors that play host to a booming underground sex trade. >> trafficking is live and well in san francisco. >> reporter: inspector ed walsh has spent 25 years with san francisco's health department. >> hi! health department, how are you? >> since 2007 our cameras have followed him on his beat. >> hello, ladies. >> inspecting the city's massage parlors. many of which are fronts for the business of prostitution. >> there is a guy, there is a guy there. when we go into these places, we observe sex. there's not supposed to be any sex. that's the bottom line. >> men looking for sex know that the price of admission is a quick $60 to the house. once inside, a bear can handpick a scantily clad woman from
the bull pen and start a private party behind closed doors. >> you go into the room and then you negotiate a sex act with a masseuse. what i understand to be the going rate is anywhere from like $120 to $140 for a sex act. and usually you can get any type of sex act that you like. >> working as part of san francisco's human trafficking task force, health inspectors like walsh and dr. ojo have helped to shut down more than 80 elicit massage parlors since 2005. thanks in part to a new california law that makes it easier to obtain permits and dodge health department rules, the massage business here is roaring back. >> two years ago, the inventory was about 115 facilities. there has to be at least another 50. so yeah, there is a glut of new massages. >> despite the task force the
task force remains determined and has ramped up inspections. today he has received a tip that the owners of this particular massage parlor in the financial district are running a brothel. >> what we have to do is start telling them to go downstairs and wait. >> unlike police, health inspectors do not need a search warrant to pop in unannounced and start poking around. but after so many years on the job, inspector walsh is now a familiar face to many of the people who run these places. if their surveillance cameras see him coming, they'll be on their best behavior. >> we'll just wait on the corner. >> they won't recognize this younger inspector. >> go for it. >> so they're more likely to buzz him in and offer him the real deal. >> what did you see when you first went in there? >> those girls sitting on the couches. i would say about five of them putting make-up on. a girl wearing yellow lingerie, black lingerie, light pink lingerie. >> moments later inspector walsh enters. >> hi, health department. how is everybody?
>> he finds women in lingerie scrambling to cover themselves and started customers racing for the exit. >> hello, what are you doing? putting your clothes on? >> whoa! >> upstairs, inspector walsh finds more massage room with women and men in various states of undress. >> hello. hi, how are you? >> fine, how are you? >> some of johns were upset that we were there. one of them, a guy asked me what the hell i was doing there. >> excuse me, sir. >> yeah. >> may i ask why -- >> we're with the health department. inspection. they were putting their pants on when i walked in. >> what do you think is going on? >> sexual activity, obviously. >> wait, wait. >> these men want nothing to do with inspector walsh or our cameras. one by one they clear out. >> here's another one. >> this man may be camera shy but he is not about to leave without a refund.
the house returns his $60 cash entry fee. >> the most girls i've ever seen here. this is like 12:00 in the afternoon. >> can everybody get their i.d.'s out please? >> one by one, the women are identified and cited for improper attire. fining massage parlors for scantily clad women is one of the numerous code violations the city came one to deter illegal activity. >> where's the manager? who is the manager? >> as is often the case in these places, the manager is nowhere to be found. leaving the women to take the blame. >> so sorry. first time, please, help me. >> this young woman who we'll call lily is sadly typical of thousands working in san francisco's massage parlors. >> thank you. >> you live in el monte, california? >> yes. >> that's in southern california. >> yes. >> why are you here? where do you live? when you go home tonight, where
are you going to go? >> lily fails to provide her address here in san francisco. a typical indication that she may very likely be staying right here in the massage parlor. >> ed, what does this look like to you? >> it looks like they're living here. two suitcases here full of clothes and there's shoes, there's bags of blankets. i would suspect that the lady we found in this room probably lives here. when we asked her where she lived, she didn't have an address. her i.d. says she is from el monte, california, which is in southern california. >> why would the women be living here? what does that indicate to you? >> that they are trafficked. they may not be here of their own volition. they may be forced to be here will. >> ed's suspicion that lily may be trafficked comes from more than two decades of working as a public health watch dog. in 2005 his observations held a federal trafficking raid free 100 korean women from downtown massage parlors.
when rescued, the women will police parlor owners forced them to have sex with customers in order to repay traffickers who brought them to america. >> five girls. >> since then, health inspectors and san francisco police have been working vigilantly to prevent a recurrence of organized sex trafficking in the city. >> where did you come from? where is your home country? >> me? >> uh-huh. [ inaudible ] >> what is the work you do here? >> i don't understand here. so sorry. >> you don't understand massage? >> yeah. >> but i saw you in the room. you're not giving massage? >> oh, no, no. i have, i take shower. i go shower and then i change my clothes. that's why i in the room. so sorry. >> so you were in the room showering and changing your clothes? >> yes. >> because you live here?
or you work here? >> oh, no. because this morning -- so sorry. i don't speak english too much. so sorry. so sorry. >> that's okay. you don't have to be sorry. you just have to do the right thing. the way that girl was sitting down there begging us not to give her a citation, i have to. you know? that's my job. >> that's a problem when you want to close out the light and everything. they don't check this. >> for now, inspector walsh will carry on, shining a light into some of the city's darkest corners. >> a bunch of mold and mildew over here. >> keeping san francisco clean is a job he takes seriously. >> do you see all that? clean all that. >> the task now grows tougher with every passing day. >> just a rereminder, when you o
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it's a friday evening in san francisco and agents with the city's human trafficking task force are preparing to conduct surprise inspections of local massage parlors. >> about six places to go to. >> the task force combines the efforts of health department inspectors like dr. johnson ojo and ed walsh working together with police, firefighters and agents from the city's departments of building and planning. tonight the task force will be looking for violations of municipal codes behind the well-guarded iron gates of massage parlors that often act as fronts for prostitution.
>> a reminder. when you do massage, everybody has to wear the white coat. >> some codes like requiring masseuses to be fully dressed and licensed by the city were written to prevent foreign women from being abused. >> the later we stay out tonight, the better our chances of finding illegal activity and girls without permits. >> tonight's first stop is the a & y health center. a spot all too familiar to inspector walsh. >> we've had numerous complaints in the past about illegal activity being conducted here. this is a place we need to keep under surveillance. >> how are you? hi, honey. how are you doing? hold on a second. >> what they initially find here are half a dozen women, some who at first appear to be without permits and possibly in the country illegally. >> do you speak chinese? >> chinese, yeah, yeah.
>> you want to talk it her? who wants to talk to her first? >> i think they need some interpretation here. >> we've seen it all. first for the operators have taught them not to speak. and the first thing they do once they're working there, tell them they don't understand english. >> inspectors check the women for i.d. and massage licenses. >> that's you? >> yeah, me. there's a downstairs office. you know, office, that's a boss keep -- >> show me where it is. >> while inspector walsh tracks down this woman's license, our producer spots two scantily clad women who scurry out of rooms, pull on sweatshirts, and immediately start doing laundry. >> the one in the green doesn't have a license. >> this woman here doesn't either. >> as they nervously busy themselves, the young women tell inspectors, they don't do massage. they are newly arrived cleaning ladies.
>> do you have your license? >> no, no. i work, just clean. no masseuse. >> you're just cleaning? >> yeah, yeah. >> how long has she been here? >> few months, yeah. she just come back from china yesterday. this is first day today. >> are you a citizen? >> no, no. i'm not a citizen. >> is she a legal resident of the united states? >> yeah, yeah. she has green card. >> you don't do massage? >> no, no. i'm no masseuse. >> who is the cleaning person? >> inspectors are skeptical of the young woman's story because they've heard similar tales from commercial sex workers before. including those caught selling sex in another massage parlor owned by the same people who own this one. >> you know, in many massage parlors, we know prostitution, commercial sex is an ongoing activity. whatever the work that is
occurring here, whether it is commercial sex or any other kind of labor. we're just concerned whether people are being coerced into it. >> how come you dress like that? that's not good. >> i try to change -- >> i have to give you a ticket. you can't have exposed skin from your shoulders to the top of your knee. she is wearing shorts and she has a low cut shirt on. it's good now. this is the way you're supposed to dress. >> every time when you are at work, you dress appropriately. >> as darkness falls on san francisco, the inspection team moves on to the next target. >> it is called nikki's oriental massage. we will wait until 10:00. we can nail them for operating after hours. >> the team gathers about a block away from nikki's oriental massage. the man in the striped sweater is the undercover john. >> i'm planning to go inside, try to solicit for a massage.
basically see what's happening before the inspectors and task force come inside. >> investigators give the undercover a minute to get in and speak with the women before moving in for their inspection. >> how are you ladies? are you by yourself? just you and her? >> inside, inspectors find six women. >> one customer? >> including one who is undressed in a room with a man who is also naked. >> there is a guy, there is a guy in there. >> a distinguished looking elderly gentleman, the man dresses quickly and ambles away from our cameras, leaving behind fresh evidence of what appears to be a mission accomplished. >> the guy got it. it looks like he got what he wanted. look at that. he seem kind of relaxed when we got out. he wasn't disappointed. we go into these places, we observe sex. so that's the bottom line. >> in another room, inspectors find more indications that nicky's oriental massage parlor may be doubling for prostitution.
>> we found condoms, cash, all kinds of lubricants for sex acts, hand jobs. >> this woman is the manager on duty tonight. she denies any knowledge of sex for sale in the massage parlor. >> what do you have these for? those aren't supposed to be here? >> because sometimes customers, you know, he comes, sometime he leaves them. we don't know -- >> this should not be here. there's no reason to have these here. >> nicky's will be cited and fined for violations of the health code. i'm citing you for operating a massage parlor after 10:00. there's no reason to have massage after 10:00 unless it is illegal massage. okay? sign there. >> and the evidence of sex for sale here will become part of a larger case to close the case down if the operators refuse to clean up their act. >> we do believe there is a pretty wide variety of exploitation going on. so the fact that we keep doing these inspections, even if there
is exploitation going on, which there surely is, at least it makes it so that it can't be done in a more overt way. >> come out. that really shocked me. about four women were stuffed into a hole about 18 inches wide and about 36 inches long. use the uh... scott: that's a bunch of ground-up paper, lad! scotts ez seed uses the finest seed, fertilizer, and natural mulch that holds water so you can grow grass anywhere! seed your lawn. seed it!
in san francisco, agents with the health department are out on a friday night, conducting surprise inspections of the city's massage parlors. >> how are you ladies? >> and finding evidence that many of these places are simply fronts for the underground sex trade. >> one customer? >> there's a guy. there's a guy in there. >> when we go into these places, we observe sex. so you know, that's the bottom line. >> what do you have these for? those aren't supposed to be here. >> evidence and information
gathered during routine health inspections like these actually play a key role in san francisco's ongoing efforts to stamp out human trafficking. >> we rescind and revoke permits and close places. we can build cases against bad places and eventually over time, suspend or revoke their massage establishment permanently. >> san francisco police. can you open the door, please. >> in 2010 our cameras were witness to one such closing. the notorious sunflower massage parlor at 450 b jones street in the city's tenderloin district. >> we are here to serve the order, indicating that your license has been revoked. >> this revocation came only after a hard fought six-year court battle. >> health department. >> and our documentary investigation that revealed sunflower to be little more than a brothel, hiding behind the facade of a massage parlor. >> this is a house of prostitution.
if you're just there for a massage, they don't want you there for a massage. they want the money for the extra service. >> year after year authorities, including the fbi, received reports of young foreign women being coerced into selling sex for cash at sunflower. >> there were so many signs of trafficking. living quarters found in the space. hole in the walls where women who were working as, so to speak, massage practitioners were hiding because they didn't have licenses. >> as we witnessed, sunflower's biggest achievement over the years was building secret hiding places to house women. >> what is this? >> it is where they were sleeping previously. >> we found a room that was downstairs. they had a lot of mattresses there where the women sleep. and it is a fire hazard. and there is very poor ventilation. i don't think any human being should be subject to that kind of treatment.
>> after multiple fines, sunflower finally walled up that illegal living space. but two inspections later, the task force uncovered yet another concealed room. >> this is a mirror on the wall. and behind the wall is a hole cut into the wall. when you open it, you discover that there is a hole there. that really showed me that four women were stuck into a hole that is about 18 inches wide and about 36 inches long. >> come out. >> the investigation of sunflower went literally through the looking glass when inspectors found women crammed into a cubbies hole behind this wall. >> finally behind a facade that looks like a mirror until we started hearing noises. that we decided to pull the mirror down. lo and behold, it is a hiding place.
>> over the years, sunflower spared no legal expense battling the health department in court and managed to stay open. >> i don't think they were in violation. >> sunflower was able to hire the best attorneys to refute all our allegations. all our evidence. >> to tell you the truth, they would rather pay any fine than to shut them down. so that tells you, money is not an issue. >> even on the very day that sunflower was legally shut down, we saw indications that men were still coming here in search of a happy ending. >> he had his shoes in his hand. he was bare footed walking out of the premises. >> the shuttering of sunflower was a significant victory in san francisco's fight against human trafficking. >> okay. i posted a sign on the front door saying your permit has been revoked. do not remove it. you're supposed to close effective 5:00 p.m.
no customers. >> and the revocation should have put an end to the business of sex for sale at this particular address. >> we had a moratorium on that location. we're not going to issue a permit. all the history, the prostitution and potentially human trafficking at that location. >> they used to open until about 2:00 in the morning. >> i think even later than that sometimes. >> but inspectors will soon discover that the battle at 450 b jones street has only just begun. coming up -- >> going in now. tell me to what you saw. >> i walked in, a female came out of one of the doors and she opened up her lab coat with lingerie under. and our price match guarantee. who's this little guy? that's birney. oh, i bet that cone gives him supersonic hearing. watch what you say around him. i've been talking a lot about his procedure... (whispering) what?
be tight for tomorrow's annual marathon. massachusetts' governor says there will be a consider -- be considerably larger police presence. the bombing last year left 260 injured. back to msnbc "undercover." san francisco police, can you open the door, please? >> in 2010 the city of san francisco finally succeeded in closing down sunflower. a notorious hot spot for prostitution, masquerading as a legitimate massage parlor. >> they were closed. the owner left. the owner of the building rented the facility to somebody else. we had a moratorium on that location. we're not going to issue massage permits there. all the potential human trafficking at that location. >> unable to get another city permit for a massage establishment, the new owners at
this address decided to get creative in rebranding their business. >> the first one opened under the guise of, what did they call themselves? relaxation spa. whatever that is. >> that is a common term now. it is actually just came up with it in the last year and a half. >> so by simply calling themselves a relaxation spa, the new owner secured a new business permit and got into the so-called business of relaxation. >> they are saying, there are girl that will give you a towel to set up your room. you take bath, a hot tub, you lay down and relax. >> seriously? >> that's what they say they do. >> do you believe them? >> no. no. it's a house of prostitution. >> okay. go for it. >> despite their efforts, the new relaxation spa is not exempt
from routine health inspections. if women working here are caught offering massage, they can be cited and the business will be closed down for the night. >> he is in, he is in, he is in. >> once inside, the undercover makes contact with four young women. >> hi! >> they are dressed improperly and offering the usual prelude to sex in this establishment. illegal massage. >> tell me what you saw. >> when i walked in, a female in teal came out one of the doors and she opened up her lab coat with lingerie under. another girl came out another door and opened up her lab coat. a third girl came out of a separate door and opened up her lab coat. all of them were in lingerie and she sat down on the couch. >> who is the owner? who is the owner? >> owner, he not here. >> what's the name of the owner? >> yeah. >> the mama san or madam is polite. she plays dumb as inspectors
turn their attention to identifying the younger women working here. these three women have legal i.d. but no massage permits. and this young woman has no i.d. at all. >> you have no, no wallet? >> i don't have anything on me, sorry. i walk around here. and i don't want nobody to snatch stuff from me. >> what do you do here? >> me? >> i do nothing. >> you do nothing? >> no. >> then what are you doing here? >> i was getting ready, actually. >> getting ready for what? >> i was doing my hair what kind of job do you do? >> i was just getting ready. i don't do anything. i work at a bar. >> the woman who we'll call donna insists she come for a job -- comes before a job at a bar down the street. >> when we walk into this establishment, you have some terrific stories. tell me again why you are here. >> huh? i'm getting dressed. i have extra clothes. i'm getting dressed to go to work.
>> who is your friend here? who do you know here? you say you don't know anybody. what gives you the authority to come to somebody else's establishment to change your clothes? you know that is a pure lie. >> inspectors get a different take from the mama san. she tells them donna came into the spa tonight looking for work in the relaxation business. >> she look for manager. >> she is looking for a job? >> yeah. she said she tell me that. >> so what happens if your statement is contradictory to what somebody else tells me? >> then i don't know. >> you don't know? >> i don't know. >> are you not telling me the truth? >> i am telling you the truth. i come to get dressed and i leave. >> do you have anything else in here that has your name on it? >> no, i don't -- my phone. >> investigators eventually i.d. donna by records on her cell phone. walsh issues her a ticket for practicing massage without a license.
but before we move on, donna agrees to tell our producer a little more about herself and >> i live in nevada. i'm from hawaii. i live in nevada. i fly out here. my friend lives in san mateo. i stay with her, but i don't want to catch the bus looking like. this there are crazy people in the world. i don't have i.d. on me because there are crazy people in the world. i come over here to get dressed to go down the street to work. that's it. >> howl are you? >> 25. >> by her own admission, donna logs tens of thousands of miles on a regular circuit that includes sex trafficking hot spots like hawaii, las vegas, l.a. and san francisco. doing it all, she says, on bartending wages. you make enough money to go from nevada to here to hawaii? >> in hawaii, i'm a hostess. >> under the circumstances, investigators begin to suspect that someone else may be moving donna from place to place and possibly selling her for sex. >> i don't work here. i promise i don't work here. >> do you know what they do
here? >> massage? spa? >> but donna isn't asking for help and so there is little more they can do for her tonight. >> you can translate for them. >> this is what i'm going to tell you. >> at least for tonight, this establishment will be unable to skirt the laws of san francisco. >> yeah, in violations here. operating a massage establishment without a permit. unlicensed workers and operating after 10:00. >> relax. >> do you actually do massage here, not relaxation. >> is so-called comfort spa will be cited for illegal massage and closed for the evening. >> wait, wait. i have a ticket. >> just sign here. i have ticket. >> so after almost a decade of countless investigation hours and paperwork to stamp out the business of sex for sale at this
address, it now appears that inspector walsh and dr. ojo are right back at square one. >> it's a shame. but you know, it's not over. we'll do it again. if we can get somebody to come forward or say they're trafficked or forced to work there, then we can bring in the police and other agencies, the fbi to close it down. >> has anybody asked you to do anything that you don't want them to do? >> i think it is really important to understand. every minute of the day is spent either being raped or waiting for the next man to show up who is going to rape them. why we i. they're who we protect. why we i. they're why we make life less complicated. it's about people.
parlors, ed walsh has a unique window on the sordid business of human trafficking. >> hi, health department. how are you? >> hello, ladies. >> every day he comes face to face with dozens of immigrant women from all across asia. >> i made it to see your i.d.s. >> many, he suspects, are indentured servants in the underground sex trade. afraid to talk or reveal they're not free to leave the premises. >> getting a lot of customers here? no customers. >> today he is quick to notice telltale signs that often distinguish legitimate massage parlors from houses of prostitution. >> there's a lot of signs. typically you can look from the outside of the facility. there will be double doors or locked gates. there will be cameras on the outside of the facility so they can view the whole sidewalk. >> hi, health department. how's everybody? you walk into the facility, you'll find girls that are improperly dressed. you will find high heels,
lingerie, condoms, lubricants. does anybody sleep here? >> nobody. >> everybody goes home? >> another indicator of human trafficking is any evidence that women are actually living on the business premises. like fully stocked kitchens, mattresses, and drawers stuffed with underwear. >> see, too many clothes here, too. what do you need all these clothes for? that's fancy massage. special massage? geez. >> today inspector walsh is following up on a tip that sex is for sale on the premises of this massage parlor in the city's mission district. >> ky jelly. five girls. >> after a quick search of the rooms, he turns his attention to identifying the women working here and checking them for valid massage permits. >> you've been here a long time, huh? working here. >> this response is funny, perhaps, because it is obviously false. >> every time i come you're always here.
>> i know. just one time coming the doors. >> it is the standard response that women in illegal massage parlors are trained to give. and inspector walsh hears it all the time. the inspection is briefly interrupted by the arrival of a prospective customer. the man is buzzed inside. but he has a sudden change of heart when he gets a good look at our cameras. >> why should he be nervous? he is just coming for massage. >> our producer starts a conversation with this woman who we'll call june. a quick check of 'her i.d. reveals that she is more than 800 mile away from her home address near seattle. >> why do you come to california to work? >> that fact piques inspector walsh's curiosity. he digs a little deeper. why would you want to come to california and do massage if
you live in washington? >> i don't really like there. not a nice place. >> june can't supply a home address in san francisco. inspector walsh begins to suspect that she may be one of the thousands of young women trafficked around the country from parlor to parlor. >> so you like working here? you don't know yet. >> when doors are officially closed for the day at this massage parlor, those girls are trapped inside. and they live on those premises. >> andrea powell runs fair girls, a national organization dedicated to rescuing trafficked women. >> i think it is really important to understand for these victims held inside these illicit massage parlors, that every minute is being raped or waiting for the next man who will rape them. >> she said many are actually victim of a bait-and-switch scheme that turns american
dreams into a nightmare. >> so our typical victim from a foreign country is approached by someone they know who says, i can offer you a job. you can work in this restaurant. life is going to be great. you're going to make thousands and thousands of dollars. you can come home and support your community. support your mom, support your family and life will be great. they get over here and they're told, you know what? actually, we paid a lot of money to bring you over hear and you're going to pay it back. the only way you're going to pay it back is involved in prostitution. if you run interesting police will catch you. if you run, you'll be arrested. you'll be in jail and you'll be deported and you'll be shamed forever and your family, by the way, back at home, will be punished as well. >> how long have you work here? >> one month. >> just one month? >> june agrees to speak with our producer, but she appears to grow ever more confused and reluctant to answer even the simplest of questions. >> do you know where you live in the city? you don't know where you live?
you don't know where you live? but you don't sleep here. you sleep here. has anybody asked you to do anything that you don't want to do? is it enjoyable work? >> i don't know -- i don't know yet. >> our producer's questions draw the attention of this woman. who prods june in korean to keep her mouth shut. [ speaking korean ] >> are you the manager? >> i don't know. i don't know english. >> what kind of work are you doing here? >> i don't know. >> you don't know what kind of work you're doing here? >> i only cook. >> what kind of work are you doing? while the woman says she is just the cook, her command ing presence appears to have the
desired effect of sealing june's lips. >> that's okay. >> it's okay? >> for every young lady who we've worked with, from southeast asian countries, china, thailand, south korea, there is a culture of pleasing and a sense of debt. >> so sorry. first time please. >> that's okay. you don't have to be sorry. you just have to do the right thing. >> some of the women we've worked with have said q.b., the i wanted to leave. if i left, how i would ever pay back this money and my family's honor would be shamed forever." so the girls are fully trapped and they don't speak english. people are watching them at all times. and the only interaction they have with anyone who is not a trafficker are the men raping them. how are they going to get out? >> if you don't feel safe here, or you want some help, you want to get out of this situation, call me. >> there may be plenty of suspicion here today but since june isn't asking for help, there is little anyone can do.
>> okay. that's my name. that's my cell phone number. okay? >> all that inspecter walsh can really offer is his phone number and his sincere desire to help under duress. >> just by listening to her conversation, she was actually talking. usually, they've been trained not to talk to anybody. they won't open up to you. this girl was actually talking to us. that's why i gave her my card and my name and number on the piece of paper. so that she could call me if she needs some help. >> another young lady who we worked with said that she would pray over and over and over again that the next man would just kill me. i don't want to do this anymore.
landscape. from the glittering home of the golden gate to the sleepy suburbs of boston, the fbi and anti-trafficking advocates say criminals forcing women into sexual slavery is on the upswing. >> this isn't just one or two girls. these are thousands and thousands of girls being sold for sex all over the country. every single day. >> andrea powell leads fair girls, a nonprofit that rescues girls from trafficking situations, and tries to restore them to some semblance of normalcy. >> you should come and look inside my office and see the over 125 girls who we have served in 2012 who were sold for sex as slaves in the united states and you can't ignore this anymore. this is one of the biggest human rights issues that we're facing nationally and globally. >> among powell's 125 clients are asian women rescued from massage parlors like this
19-year-old who we'll call maylin. >> she was from a very, very rural town in china. she was an unwanted child by her family. they really didn't want a girl. she was treated like domestic slave growing up anyway. and an uncle came to her and said, i have an idea. why don't you work at this really fancy restaurant in new york city. you'll make all this money and you'll be so happy and rich and you won't have to worry about anything. and all you have to do is pay the woman $2,000. so of course, she didn't have 2,000 u.s. dollars. so a woman comes and meets her and says i'll loan you the money. she gets over here on a fake passport and then she is told, you just entered the country illegally with a fake passport. you'll get arrested and put in jail forever. she is told if you want to pay it back you can work 20 years in my restaurant or i can let you work in this massage and it will only take you a year. she gets there. the doors close. there's barbed wire.
and she is told actually you'll have sex with these men. if you don't do it, here's a picture of your brother at university right now and something will happen to him if you don't do this. >> powell says massage parlor girls like maylin frequently find themselves paralyzed by the fear of very real consequences should they choose to run from their captors. >> the real motivating factor for keeping these girls enslaved and quiet, the real threat is often about their family. your family will be shamed if you don't pay back this money. your family will be shamed because we'll tell them you are a prostitute and they won't want you back. and so powell says, they go to work selling their bodies in an effort to pay back a perceived debt to their captors. today powell says thousands of women just like maylin are trapped in this cruel parlor game with ever changing rules. >> a game that simply cannot be won. >> she was told, she owed $2,000. when she got to the u.s., she
was told it was $75,000. and she could work her way out of it. but every time she used a condom, every time a bar of soap came her way, they would take that off. you owe us for this, you owe us for this. she was charged rent. she was charged gas for the car. she was charged for electricity. all these fake charges would come in so she could never pay back this debt. another young lady who we work with said she would pray over and over and over again that the next man would just kill her. she just said every time a man walked in, she would say, i hope this is the man who will just kill me. i don't want to do this anymore. >> in 2011, maylin was finally rescued from her captors. when washington, d.c. police raided her massage parlor. >> when she finally was arrest and then later identified by homeland security as a victim of trafficking and brought to us, her brother was actually beaten up back at home and she was sent a picture of that. >> despite that, powell says maylin bravely testified against
her traffickers. with help from fair girls and some time to heal, maylin is finally on the path to something like a normal life. >> she is working in that restaurant she always wanted to work in. and she is in school, and life is a lot better. but she doesn't have her family anymore. they want nothing to do with her. she did pay very dearly for this freedom, and that's very typical of this isolation for these young girls, not thinking anyone can understand them. that's what we face. >> according to powell, facing reality means recognizing that the innocuous massage parlors popping up in cities big and small means cheap sex for sale at the expense of innocence like maylin. she wants the men who buy sex at illicit massage parlors to know for thousands of women like maylin, there is no such thing as a happy ending. >> those who are buying these
girls, i just, i want them to actually see the face of these girls when they walk out the door. if they would turn around and see the look in her eyes, it is not a smiling, happy person. i would like for them to see these girls as they're arrested and see them as they're sitting in deportation proceedings. or see them as they're sitting in my office or other offices around the country crying because they don't know what they are going to do with the rest of their lives and see the impact. they are victims of trafficking. in their mind, they're just a dirty girl that nobody cares about. when you go and buy them, you're solidifying that there mind. >> if you don't feel safe here, or you want some help, you want to get out of this situation, call me. >> a few days after our initial contact with june, inspector walsh returned to the palm tree spa to check on her. she had disappeared. the manager told walsh that june left no forwarding address.
in the suburbs of orlando florida and all across america, the business of sex for sale is ruining young lives. >> i've heard people say prostitution is a victimless crime. it's not a victimless crime. if it was your daughter there, you would not be saying it's a victimless crime. >> girls trapped in despair and degradation. >> this is not some consenting adult having sex with another consenting adult for compensation. she's property. she's property to be bartered with, to be sold.