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Florida massage parlor bust sheds light on human trafficking problem in US

Posted at 1:08 PM, Feb 26, 2019

As the New England Patriots prepared to take the field for the AFC title game, police say the team’s owner Robert Kraft was at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida, soliciting a sex worker, according to new details released in the investigation.

Kraft denies any illegal activity.

The case has received widespread attention once authorities revealed Kraft’s involvement in the investigation. However, the case stretches far beyond the billionaire and South Florida.

"I think it's very safe to say without any hyperbole that this is the tip of the tip of the iceberg,” said Sheriff William Snyder of the Martin County Sheriff’s Office.

So far, 25 people have been charged with solicitation, and police believe hundreds of others could be arrested.

In just three months, the investigation has already uncovered a multi-million dollar international scheme that stretches from China to New York City and Palm Beach, Florida.

"It's about time the country has a real conversation about human trafficking, which is modern day slavery in our midst,” said Dave Aronberg, state attorney for Palm Beach County, in a recent presser. “This is not about lonely old men or victimless crimes.”

Amanda Finger, the executive director of the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking, says unfortunately, this isn't the only type of trafficking they've seen.

“You also see cases that involve tourism industry that involve people in the western slope, who are forced into farm work ranchers,” Finger says.

Many organizations consider human trafficking the world's fastest growing crime. The most common form is sex trafficking, and the industry pulls in an estimated $99 billion each year.

According to the United Nations, most of the victims are women and girls.

Finger says any community can be impacted, so she helps people and organizations recognize red flags, like poor living conditions and ways people spend money.

“If they ever talk about needing to give it back to someone else, someone else is controlling their money, someone else is controlling their documentation and they don't have their ID on them,” Finger says of signs someone may be a victim.

Humans rights groups hope the arrest of Kraft will bring more awareness to this pervasive problem.