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tv   Sex Slaves Parlor Games  MSNBC  November 30, 2014 4:00pm-5:01pm PST

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in san francisco, the business of sex for sale is booming behind the facades of illegal massage parlors. >> i observed a license masseuse topless with her breasts exposed. >> young women from all over the world are trapped in a cruel game of debt and sexual servitude. >> i'm going to get dressed, if you don't mind. could you leave the room for a minute, please? >> so, this is not a massage parlor? >> no, it's not. >> it is a big game for them and they are good at it. but eventually, something's going to break and i'm going to be there. >> let's go. let's go.
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>> msnbc goes undercover with san francisco's human trafficking force. >> could you open up that door, please? open it up! >> as they crack down on the city's notorious parlor games. >> how many do you have here tonight? >> what kind of massage do you do? >> and fight to end the exploitation of women working at happy endings. >> my whole family. >> i want to make sure you are okay. is she free to come and go? if you want to walk out right now, you and i, if you want to walk out, nobody can stop you. the city of san francisco is home to some 300 massage parlors and spas. some are legitimate concerns, offering therapeutic treatments for aching bones and muscles. but many are just facades for the city's booming traffic in
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the business of sex for sale. >> so, i put together this list of about seven places. >> to combat the problem, the mayor's human trafficking task force combines personnel from several city agencies who conduct regular inspections of local massage parlors looking for any signs of sex or labor trafficking. >> tonight we received a number of complaints regarding massage establishments in chinatown that are not operating with permits. >> her redbook posting says it's nancy, asian, chinese female. friendly, yet playful. >> the task force includes sergeant tony flores from the special victims unit. with more than 25 years on the job, flores spent the last decade working domestic violence cases, developing skills that translate well to cases of human trafficking. >> they are similar as far as the victims not wanting to come forward. the victims distrust of the
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police. the victims, if there are immigration issues, those issues come in to play. >> the frustrating part for me is that you can almost see in their eyes that they want to get out but they don't know how to get out. >> when you're ready, i'm ready. >> it is a little after 6:00 p.m. when the team assembles outside of their first inspection location, top therapy academy on clay street. at first, everything appears to be in order. customers receive therapeutic massage from male and female practitioners. but upstairs, investigators discover numerous health code violations. >> wow! >> including indications that workers may be living on the premises. >> get a load of this stuff. >> yeah, yeah. >> this is all indication of living. >> are they living up here? >> no, no, no. >> what are all these tables doing here? >> they're messy. no customers up here, no. >> sure you don't do massage here? >> no. >> they sleep here. >> no sleep, just rest.
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>> just rest. >> nobody live here. >> despite the manager's protest, it's evident that the second floor is being used for massage and possibly to house immigrant workers. >> get her picture. >> such obvious violations of city health and safety codes are often the first indicators of human trafficking. >> the windows are open, though, see that? >> the task force moves on to their next stop, a second-floor walk-up that goes by the name of may sun beauty salon. up spector walsh has received complaints that the so-called beauty salon is actually an illegal massage parlor. >> yeah, this is a tough one for us, because you have to be like a regular customer and you have to know somebody. it's almost like a club. >> knocks on the door go unanswered, but investigators suspect the proprietors are simply huddled inside and waiting for the team to go away. >> we could tell. we knew there were people inside of there. you have to remember, when we're knocking, we make enough sound, and there's video cameras. so, they know it's us.
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>> sergeant flores gets creative. >> do you have a fire escape? >> he asks the adjoining business owner for permission to use the fire escape so that he can crawl across and get a peek inside the window of may sun. >> probably not the smartest move, because you never know about the fire escape. >> yes, it's just another friday night in chinatown for san francisco's human trafficking task force, doing whatever it takes to get a glimpse into the workings of an insulane insolat >> yeah that was crazy. when they saw a police officer looking through the window, they realized, we have to do something. >> can you open up that door, please? yes, thank you. she's opening up the door. >> and then finally, that person opens up the door. so, they didn't realize that we were there. >> hi. >> hi. thank you. thank you. hello, everybody! >> once inside, inspector walsh is greeted by the sights and unmistakable sounds of what appears to be a great big game
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of majong, but a quick check of the premises reveals massage tables that are still warm. >> is it warm? is the bed warm? >> it's very warm. >> leading investigators to think that the men and women were playing an entirely different sort of parlor game just moments earlier. >> did you get pictures of like all the oils and everything so that -- >> yeah, we saw that. >> so we have evidence that they're doing massage here and that's obvious? >> what took so long to open the door? >> they all local. locals no open. >> we haven't opened. >> we knocked for about five minutes. how come you don't open? >> because we're not open. >> do you have any idea that when we were knocking on the door, they were playing mah jong? >> we would have heard it. that's loud. so, all of a sudden, there's a game when we showed up, but somebody opens the door, don't you open the door? what if somebody wanted to come in, like one of your friends? >> they call. >> oh, they call. they call.
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the way you get in here, you make a phone call. if you speak chinese, you know somebody. >> may sun had been ordered to close after a previous inspection found condoms, lubricants and other evidence of sex for sale on the premises, but tonight's inspection appears to indicate that they are still in business. >> what's this? >> this menu of massage services and prices is discovered on display in plain sight. >> a long time ago. >> these are the old prices. they never -- >> we've been closed for -- >> okay, i get reports, i get complaints that you're still doing massage. that's why we're here. people tell me that you're still doing massage. it's not because i just decided to come. >> yeah, we haven't been doing anything since we haven't gotten a business license. >> this young woman's denials are compromised with the fact that her pocket is stuffed with cash. investigators also notice a number of pornographic videos laying around, including one already loaded into the dvd player. >> do you watch this?
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>> the items are not illegal, but they are curious props for a so-called beauty salon. >> i'm just wondering, why is it inside? beauty salon. do you play it for the customers? >> they take it up from the trash can downstairs, from the trash can. >> but it's up here. >> i caught them about it a long time ago. a long time ago. >> ridiculous. it's a big game here. i'm tired of it. >> thank you. >> sign here, please. no massages. no massages. no massages. right there. >> the owner signs an order to appear at a hearing and once again, may sun is ordered to close. >> okay, bye-bye. >> bye-bye. >> but inspectors are barely out the door when they bump into a man who appears to be waiting for his appointment at the beauty salon. >> this house? you're going to this house? >> yeah, she's saying don't come up. >> the man is shooed away, but
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for how long? the task force cannot afford to post a century here tonight. there are more inspections to do and an entire city to look after. have you got any customers here? >> yes. >> we want to know about the good places, but we also want to know about the bad places, and those places that are taking advantage of girls. what does an apron have to do with car insurance? an apron is hard work. an apron is pride in what you do. an apron is not quitting until you've made something a little better. what does an apron have to do with car insurance? for us, everything. what would help is simply being able to recognize a fair price. that's never really been possible. but along comes a radically new way to buy a car, called truecar. now it is. truecar has pricing data on every make and model,
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in san francisco, investigators with the city's human trafficking task force are out on the streets of chinatown, inspecting massage parlors and looking for indications of prostitution and forced labor. bay relaxation center on sacramento street is just one of the many new venues in town suspected of operating without a massage permit from the city's health department. >> you got any customers here? >> yeah, a customer over there. >> you do. >> good thing you're here. >> yeah, we need to do an inspection. we need -- how many workers do
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you have? >> i don't know. i just got here. >> hi, how are you? okay. >> inside the massage parlor, inspectors find four female workers and two male customers. >> hello? >> hello. >> hey. i'm from the police department. how are you? everything okay? >> yeah. >> no problems with the girl or anything like that? >> no. >> did she try to do anything inappropriately, like did she touch your areas or anything like that? >> no. >> okay, all right. >> sergeant flores finds no evidence of sexual activity, but the customers are obviously rattled and quickly exit. >> hi. >> hi. >> let me see your licenses. >> a routine check for massage licenses confirms inspector walsh's suspicions. although the women working here are licensed by the city, the business itself is not. >> you've got a problem. you don't have an establishment license. >> she says she has it. >> do you have a california? let's see. >> the owner protests, pointing out that her business is licensed by the state of
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california. >> california. >> but in order to operate a massage parlor within san francisco, she needs a city license or a license exemption from the city. >> until you get a license, you can't give massage here. >> and so, what's happening? what did you tell her tonight? >> i told her she has to close tonight because she doesn't have a health permit or a permit exemption for her establishment. >> this is just one of the many massage parlors currently slipping through the cracks between state laws meant to encourage business and city laws crafted to combat sex and labor trafficking. >> but if you don't come in and investigate and find out what they have, you don't know. so, by coming here, we know they don't have the appropriate permits. and if they want to become medical massage, they can be exempt, but they have to come and submit the paperwork. so, yeah, meet with me on monday morning and we can explain how to do it. >> how long have you been working here? >> meanwhile, sergeant flores has a chance to speak with one of the masseuses. >> yesterday afternoon. okay. all right. >> she says she just started
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yesterday, which is a common and frequently untrue response. but flores is more interested in gaining her trust and listening for any hints that she might be working here against her will. >> are you happy working here? >> it's the second day. >> it's the second day. yes. >> i don't know how to say it because i've just started. everything new. >> did they loan you any money or do you owe them anything? >> no. >> do you sleep here? do you sleep overnight or do you just go home? >> no, home. >> okay. i got you. okay. >> the woman has no complaints about this establishment, but her tenure with a previous employer is a different story. >> did he want you to do something that you didn't want to do? >> yeah. i don't want to -- >> well, here, let me -- i'll say it. did he want you to have sex with the customers? >> no, no. >> did he want you -- >> about him, yeah. >> oh, he wanted you to have sex with him. >> yes, and i was new also -- >> the woman says her previous employer sexually harassed her and the other women working
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there. >> so stressful, yeah. >> i can tell. >> very stressful. i felt so sad. >> she says he never explicitly asked for her to engage in sex with customers, but reading between the lines, she says she and other women felt pressured to increase business by any means necessary. >> he say, oh, why the business is so slow, why the business is not good, why do, you know. i say, i try my best. every day i'm working so hard and my wrist, my body's broken. i'm working so hard. >> she's telling me, hey, i just left this place a couple weeks ago and these were the conditions, it was bad. he wanted me to do anything i didn't want to do, and i'm sure there are really bad things that she may not want to open up at this moment, because again, we're just meeting for the first time, and that's not uncommon. sometimes it takes somebody for a while, but you could tell something occurred there. >> and the girls that he has working there don't have licenses? >> the woman provides sergeant
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flores with a tip for follow-up investigation. flores makes a note and promises to stay in touch. >> because we want to know about the good places and we want to make sure the girls are treated right. but we also want to know about the bad places and those places that are taking advantage of girls, and you know, really not treating them right. and if they didn't treat you right, i can't imagine what he's doing to the other girls. >> inspectors are wrapping up when a man stops in looking for service. he's waved off by the proprietor and retreats. but the man does not leave. he simply waits patiently on the sidewalk outside the massage parlor. and as inspectors file out, he tries to go back in. >> no more. turn off the lights. party's over. >> inspector walsh steps in and reminds a proprietor that she must close for the evening, and the man has to go. >> they're going to see you. >> eventually, he and another man are shooed away and left to
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go hunting elsewhere for massage services, thanks to city inspectors, there will be no relaxation services here tonight. person who came in here was offered a massage. person who came in here was offered a massage. >> this is not a massage parlor? >> no, it's not.
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in recent years, the city of san francisco has gotten tough on massage parlors, closing more than 116 that were actually operating as brothels. but now there's a new kind of business popping up here. they call themselves relaxation spas, specifically to avoid laws governing massage parlors, places like golden pearl on taylor street are the new players in the parlor game. >> okay, what we did there is we sent one of our undercover inspectors to try to get a massage, because that place has been labeled as a relaxation spa. >> once inside, the undercover is typically offered a massage and an unguarded view of what really goes on in a so-called
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relaxation spa. >> i see improperly dressed masseuses all the time. i see them running, scattering to hide items, such as a condom or money. >> hey. how are you doing? health department. >> police department. >> when the lights come on, the women cover up. at the same time, police spot this woman trying to leave. they bring her back inside. >> she's the older lady on her way out. she offered a massage for $40. >> they suspect she may be be the mamasan, or the manager on duty. >> she's leaving again. >> she's leaving again. >> once again, the woman makes a dash for it. >> and where are you going? >> this time, one of our cameras follows. once again, the woman is intercepted by police. by offering to arrange a massage for the undercover, she has confirmed suspicions that golden pearl is operating illegally. and in this room down the
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hallway, sergeant flores finds evidence of sexual activity, including lubricants and condoms. >> so, what kind of massage do you do? >> no massage, just relaxation, whole body relaxation. >> the woman offers the usual denials, but sergeant flores is more concerned about her well-being. >> you've got to find out a little bit more. are you being controlled by anybody? are you free to go? is somebody feeding you? do you have lodging? is somebody holding something over your head? >> do you ever do anything that you didn't want to with the clients here? >> and we're talking to them and we try so hard just to say, hey, i want to make sure that you're okay. i want to make sure that, you know, if you want to walk out right now, you and i, we can walk out and nobody can stop you. >> sergeant flores gives her the chance to air any worries. but his concern only seems to irritate her. what's wrong? >> no, nothing wrong. how come you ask so many question? i say i'm okay. nobody force me to do anything. >> okay. don't get mad at me, because you
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know what, i'm here to make sure that all the girls and everybody that works in places like this are okay, because sometimes, and you and i both know that, that sometimes they're not okay. >> we do the best that we can, and you can't pass judgments on people that make these mistakes, because they're going to make them. but eventually, something's going to break, and i'm going to be there. >> meanwhile, down at the end of the hallway, inspector walsh comes across a familiar face. >> how are you doing? >> the lady -- >> oh, that's the former owner of sunflower. >> yes. >> open up. health department. >> sunflower was a notorious brothel masquerading as a massage parlor that first appeared on the "sex slaves" series several years ago. >> okay, look. come out. >> during one visit, inspectors found women hiding inside the walls in a vain effort to evade detection. >> right this way, please. >> investigators also found cramped living quarters for women inside the massage parlor, a telltale sign of human
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trafficking. finally, after numerous citations and a lengthy court battle, the city revoked sunflower's license and the business was shuttered. >> i knew i recognized you before. you were the former owner of sunflower. >> yes. >> but now it appears sunflower's owner, a woman named chao wynn, has resurfaced in the business of relaxation. what are you doing now? >> working. >> so, you don't own this? her name does not appear on the license for golden pearl. however, investigators note that the owner of record is her cousin. so, you don't have any ownership stake in this spa? >> no. >> you're just a worker. >> yes. >> and what kind of work with you doing now? >> i can do copying, i can do relaxing, i can do body shampoo. i can do a lot of things. >> so, this is not a massage parlor. >> no, it's not. >> okay. >> while wynn pretends that
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golden pearl is not a massage parlor, the woman who arranged a massage for the undercover is sulking in a corner right behind her. >> it's funny how you can take a permit away from somebody for operating illegally, but then they'll just pop up somewhere else and try to skirt the law and still do the same kind of business that they did before with the massage license. >> none of the women working here tonight is carrying a massage license, so they will be cited for that and for improper attire. this woman says she has a massage license at home. >> you know me long time. i work massage, right? >> that's right. >> i know what massage -- >> but you should have your license. >> you know i have license. >> then show it to me. >> i come here -- >> bring the license to my office. bring your license to my office. >> inspector walsh says women like this are often caught between the law and their boss's directive to keep up the illusion that relaxation spas or not massage parlors. >> person who came in here was offered a massage. they had been told not to bring
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their massage i.d.s if they're on the premises? >> they're offering massages here. >> because then it will be used against them as offering massage. >> who's the manager? >> before inspectors can finally wrap up here, someone must sign the citation for the establishment. >> okay, i'm going to give one -- who's going to accept one for the owner? >> but there are no volunteers. >> the lady in the back, i asked her to sign it because i know she was the owner of the previous place, and she says the cleaning lady is the manager. >> oh, she's in charge? >> she's the cleaning person. >> okay, thank you. yeah, the cleaning person is in charge. okay, so, you're in charge, right? >> the cleaning lady seems more surprised than anyone to discover that she is suddenly the boss at golden pearl tonight. >> you're the manager, right? >> huh? >> this is for the owner. you're receiving it for the owner. just sign here, says you received it. you're not in trouble. >> she is understandably reluctant to sign anything until she is assured in vietnamese that her signature on this report is simply a formality. >> we want her to sign an
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inspection report. >> can you ask her to sign an inspection report? [ speaking foreign language ] >> ah. >> thank you very much. >> tonight's parlor game at golden pearl underscores the degree to which san francisco's longtime sellers of sex are reinventing themselves, creating new ploys to avoid regulation and keep the black market cash flowing. no, no, that's okay. >> i'm going to get dressed. can you leave the room for a minute, please?
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hi, i'm richard lui. here's what's happening this hour. police say a body found near ohio state university is that of missing football player costa kerrigeorge. he went missing wednesday after eternity texting his mom,
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apologizing for being an embarrassment after concussions he suffered. it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. the commission formed after the michael brown shooting will examine several social and economic changes in that city. now back to "msnbc undercover." a few weeks after their last round of inspections, san francisco's human trafficking task force reconvenes for another night on the town. at the top of the list, a familiar trouble spot for investigators, the a&y health center in the city's fritolla district. >> a lot of complaint of all this activity, men going in, girls going in. >> after hours they suspect there's prostitution going on, a lot of males going inside. >> a quick check on the internet tells sergeant flores what's on the menu at a&y this evening. >> let's see, $35 for a
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full-body oil massage by young, beautiful girl. >> there's quite a few girls there. there's probably like eight rooms there. >> inspector walsh is all too familiar with a&y. in fact, our cameras followed him there during a previous inspection in 2012. >> we've had numerous complaints in the past about illegal activity being conducted here. this is a place we need to keep under surveillance. >> at the time, inspectors found women working without massage permits and dressed improperly for work. >> how come you're dressed like that? that's not good. >> oh. >> they also noted a cramped living quarters on the premises, cluttered with food and clothes, an indication that a&y might be doubling as an illegal rooming house for foreign women. >> the purpose of this is to, you know, again, they are all victims inside there, we believe. but eventually, somebody comes out, and they will tell us something. they'll say, no, i don't want to
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be here. and that's the opportunity that we get. >> it's a little before 7:00 p.m. when the team assembles near a&y. an undercover health inspector goes in to request a massage. investigators give the undercover a moment to make the deal. >> let's go! let's go! >> then scramble to gain entry and observe the situation inside. [ speaking foreign language ] >> no, no, that's okay. >> the reception seems nervous, perhaps with good reason. there are two male customers in massage rooms down the hall. >> i'm going to get dressed, if you don't mind. can you leave the room for a minute, please? >> go get a picture? >> inspector walsh reserves and documents that both masseuses are dressed improperly for work. meanwhile, evidence of sex on the premises is recovered in a bathroom at the end of the hall. >> so, in doing a trash pick, in this trash can, i located two unwrapped condoms. wrapped up in toilet paper.
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>> upstairs, investigators find a tiny living space cramped with beds, food, and five women from china and thailand. >> do you guys have a massage license? >> not with them. >> the nervous women carry no documentation, no massage licenses and no legal i.d. they admit to being recent tr s transplants from china and thailand, but say the owner has their passports and all legal papers. the circumstances here are a red flag for experienced investigators, prompting suspicion that a&y health center may be engaged in human trafficking. >> so, none of these guys have u.s. identification? >> nope. >> do you think it's highly likely that people are living there? >> oh, yes, very, very much so. i think all these ladies should be talked to about that. >> thank you. >> before sergeant flores can talk to the women, he must first run down one of the massage customers who attempted to exit unnoticed. >> i'll ask you straight up, did
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they ever solicit you into anything, any act of prostitution or anything like that? >> the man denies any wrongdoing. he's i.d.'d, cleared and released. there is not enough evidence to press charges. sergeant flores turns his attention to the second customer. >> did anybody offer you anything extra? do you want to be more specific on that? >> i don't know. >> okay. watch out with that condom. >> oh, geez, i didn't see it. >> what do you think's going on in here? >> well, seeing that. >> all right. okay. all right. and none of the girls solicited you? >> again, there is no specific evidence linking this customer to anything criminal. >> okay, thank you very much. >> he is allowed to leave. investigators turn now to the women working here in the hopes of finding one who might possibly cooperate and shed some light on the business. >> thank you for calling. my name is jackie. may i have the language? >> mandarin, please.
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>> with help of a translator by phone, sergeant flores begins to interview the women. >> okay, what is her job here? >> this woman, who goes by the name tiffany, tells police that she is the owner's sister. [ speaking foreign language ] >> okay, so, is she like the manager? >> just like that. >> tiffany says her sister is on vacation in las vegas and sergeant flores draws her attention to the used condoms recovered from the bathroom, she expresses surprise and says they have no idea how they got there. >> massage and they're not allowed to do anything else. so, when they found this, i was surprised. >> you were surprised, okay. well, who brought that in? >> i don't know. >> no, but you're the boss. you're the one running the place, so you're responsible for what goes on here. [ speaking foreign language ] >> tiffany insists that she and
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her sister run a tight ship and all the women are routinely reminded of the roles. first and foremost, no sex with the customers. >> okay, well, obviously, somebody's not following the rules and there is evidence of somebody having sex in her establishment, her sister's establishment, while she's running this establishment. [ speaking foreign language ] >> i don't know. i never saw this before. if i find someone having sex, then i will fire the person. >> tiffany's interview illustrates the classic defense strategy of brothels that masquerade as massage parlors. number one, always plead ignorance. and if the evidence of sex is undeniable, simply accuse the workers of deception and promise to reprimand or fire them. in this parlor game, the rules always favor the house at the expense of the women who do the work.
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>> i want to know, what's your name? >> there was something else going on there, because you got so emotional. >> okay, i leave my family in thailand, my whole family. >> you pay for your whole family in thailand? >> yeah.
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a massage parlor in san francisco's portola district is being inspected by the city's human trafficking task force. >> so, how many girls do you have here tonight? >> inside the a&y health center, inspectors find a dozen women. almost all are working without massage licenses or dressed improperly for work. they also recovered two used condoms from a trash can in the bathroom, underscoring suspicion that sex for sale is on the menu here. >> is there any doubt in your
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mind that they're selling sex? >> no, there's no doubt in my mind. there's no doubt. but we would like to have somebody come forward in a place like that. then we'd have more power. >> is she free to come and go? >> to that end, sergeant flores carefully interviews the women working tonight, looking for any indications that they are being compelled to serve here against their will. >> they treat her good? >> yeah. okay, good, then. >> one by one, the women try to dismiss investigators' concerns about trafficking. >> is anybody forcing her to work here? [ speaking foreign language ] >> no. >> but the task force still finds reason to suspect that all is not well for at least one woman who works here. >> do you stay here on a work visa? >> no, i'm american citizen. >> this woman from thailand goes by the name lina. >> do you have a license? can i see it, please? >> an american citizen by marriage, she was the only one here tonight with legal i.d. and
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a massage license. >> okay. this is the first one. you're the first one. thank you. >> but she was also observed working in a massage room with a client while dressed improperly for the job. >> i just get in the door and then they tell me you go work and i don't have time to change my dress. >> lina says she was rushed and did not have time to change, but inspector walsh is still duty-bound to issue a citation. >> i have to report this to california massage therapy council, the people who issue the license. >> you cannot do what i did and you want to listen my reason why i dressed today. i just get in outside. >> okay, all i know is i saw what i saw. and the camera shows that you're not dressed properly. >> although the infraction is minor, lina bristles at the prospect of any possible threat to her massage license. she channels her frustration directly at inspector walsh. >> that's not fair to my reason. >> we want to make sure --
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>> you are not helping the girl. you guy come to make a problem for the girl. >> she's just being cited for being improperly dressed, and there was something else going on there, because she got so emotional and so aggressive towards me. >> now he want to leave me right now, just keep me out of license, and next time you come, i don't have i.d. on me, are you happy like that? >> no. no, i would not be. >> so, next time you want to listen? >> no. >> i come from a poor family. i don't have in the job, and you have to kick me out, beg me -- >> i'm not trying kick you out. >> i get i.d. you say you want to leave and they are going to stop your california i.d. why you do that? that's you help me? it's not fair. i want to know what's your name. i want to -- >> my name's right here. my name's right here. >> yeah. it's not fair.
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>> that's my telephone. >> why you not listen my reason? >> i'm listening. >> why you still want to pay if he catches me. >> it's not a ticket. it's a notice to come to a hearing. >> yeah. >> you come to the hearing and explain to the hearing officer what you told me. >> i was alone. i carry my family in thailand, the whole family. >> you pay for your whole family in thailand? >> yeah, yeah. >> so, the money you send home? >> yes. >> you send the money home? >> yeah. >> how many relatives are you supporting? >> i have one, my niece, two my niece in thailand, my brother is in the jail, and i take care of my mom. >> your brother is in a jail? >> yeah. >> lina's story offers a rare glimpse at the heavy psychological burden shouldered by many women working in illegal massage parlors. even if they want to leave a life, a sense of duty to family back home often compels them to stay in servitude. as for the people who profit from the labor of women like
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lina, the city of san francisco is placing them on notice. >> i hope you or your sister can come up with the licenses for all these people, because if she can't, you're in trouble. this place is going to be closed for a long time. >> okay, what happened was that since nobody had a license, that gave you the authority to just close the place. so, that night we closed you. we said, okay, this is done. there's no more massage. nobody here has a license. you guys are done until you can provide me with a license. we went through this before. >> i know. >> it's not funny. it's not funny. >> i know. >> this is the second time we did this. you've got it tonight. nobody has a license. >> i know. i know. >> okay, you know, okay. so, yeah, it's closed now until they clean it up and then they can prove that they all have licenses and that they stopped playing this game of not showing their licenses when we come. i observed later identified masseuse tah hee kim with her breasts exposed. >> she said there was no
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improper activity going on. she had bent over and one of her breasts had been exposed at the same time that he had walked in.
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across think street from san francisco's city hall the department of public health headquarters plays host to regular hearings where massage parlor owners and their lawyers contest citations from the city. inspector walsh presents his findings from a recent visit to a and y health center. >> the violations we found was the owner was employing eight uncertified massage practitioners it is used as a living quarters, very unsanitary and three were not dressed properly. >> these citations stem from the inspection documented by our cameras. >> what happened was that night since nobody had a license that gave me the authority to just close the place.
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>> during that visit inspectors also recovered used condoms from a trash can in the bathroom. >> what do you think is going on in here? >> that evidence of sex on the premises is not part of the citation as the city avoids prosecution that may discourage sex workers from using protection. >> i want to address the most important issue. that is the unlicensed masseuses present. >> attorney christopher hall specializes in representing massage parlors in san francisco. shortly after the inspection and closure hall and the owner of a and y were highly motivated to iron out their problems with the city. >> so they had to get reopened. they are losing a lot of money. i got a call, i think two days later from the lawyer saying we have licenses and we want to reopen. okay. come on in and show the licenses. >> hall and his client arranged a meeting to present inspector walsh with documents that they claimed were the required
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massage licenses for all of the employees but walsh and his team checked them against the state license registry and discovered they were forgeries. >> my client was duped. >> the attorney says he and his client were shocked to learn the massage licenses were phony and he places the blame squarely on the masseuses. five chinese illegals who have all since vanished. the owner claims to have no knowledge about their whereabouts. >> we are saying they provided false licenses to the owner. >> they provided false licenses to the owners. some working three or four days, maybe others up to ten days, two weeks. the point is my client did not know she was being duped in to this. >> while it is possible that she was unwittingly duped by her workers, it's important to remember that attorneys like christopher hall are paid to deflect culpability away from their clients. >> entered the facility.
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>> such was the case at another massage parlor where inspectors observed a topless masseuse in the room with a naked man. >> i observed later, identified licensed masseuse kim exposed breasts trying to cover up using her smock. >> these facts seem simple enough but in the hands of an experienced defense attorney he can push the boundaries of credibility. >> i think what happened is this. she was wearing a white jacket. ms. kim does not wear a bra many times because she has a medical problem in her stomach. it's too tight. it gives her acid. she said there was no improper activity carried on. he was laying on the table. she was massaging him. she bent over and one of her breasts had been exposed at the same time that mr. perry walked in. >> in rebuttal, health inspector said that is not what happened. >> when i opened it she was barely trying to get her jacket on and both of her breasts were hanging out. we write our statement and notes
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at the time of inspections and we stick to what we saw and we state to the facts. >> she had been massaging this individual. >> the attorney insists that the inspector did not see what he says he saw. a claim that moved some in the gallery to laughter. >> there was a malfunction. she had been massaging this individual and one of her breasts, not the nipple, had been exposed. >> i think it is a big game for them and they are good at it. >> certainly massage parlors are entitled to vigorous defense against accusations of wrongdoing but sometimes the best defense is to remain silent. >> i have been working in that area for a little over a year now. >> a prime example occurs when a and y counsel proceeds cross-examination. >> it is suspicious, activity. is that the nature of the complaint? >> allegations. yes. >> nothing you have investigated
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on your own to substantiate illegal activity. >> my investigator from my office says given me a report that i think suggests there is that activity going on. >> he suggested it? >> no, the evidence suggested it. >> what was the evidence. >> with that question, he opens the door for inspectors to disclose the used condoms recovered at a and y. >> that is not an allegation. >> you asked the questions an i answered them. >> it was my understanding it is not cover in the scope of the hearing. >> it is not but it is in my report. if you refer to page 3 of my inspection report. >> apparently miffed at the turn of events, mr. hall directs his ire at inspector walsh and the health department. >> this is the problem with ed walsh and his department. they spring this stuff at the last minute, which is at the hearing before your honor. >> if i plead and present the
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evidence. >> she contentious. i'm up there. i'm held to provide evidence and i see what may staff sees. i don't make things up. >> despite his efforts to deflect, mr. hall cannot erase the simple fact that his client was caught operating a massage parlor with eight unlicensed undocumented women who have now disappeared. >> after weighing the evidence the hearing officer declares the business in violation and levies a $3,000 fine against the establishment. >> is there any fine against the masseuses? >> no. >> against the owner. >> for the record, a and y provided valid licenses for the remaining masseuses and the massage parlor reopened two weeks after inspection. but msnbc's attempts to gather more details about their compliance were unsuccessful. the owner and her attorney declined the interview on camera. so the parlor game goes on but
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the rules are finally beginning to change. in 2014, the san francisco city council enacted a new law giving inspectors more power to crackdown on illegal massage parlors. >> all i need is one prostitution case for any massage parlor. i don't need a long history of violations over a long period of time. i only need one incident and i can fine the facility 5,000 and close the facility for four months. >> the new law has helped city inspectors shut down a dozen illegal massage parlors in the first half of 2014. the public servants like ed walsh and tony flores won't rest until they bust them all. ♪
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every year, millions flock to orlando, florida for the sun, family fun and increasingly fantasy sex. >> do whatever you can do. you are really hot. >> i'm up for pretty much anything. >> but in polking county, buyer and sellers of sex beware. >> welcome to polk county. you are under arrest. >> where sheriffs police enforce the law. >> the


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