AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – The 22News I-Team spoke to a human trafficking expert on Wednesday, who says often times these victims are tricked and these busts may be their only way out.
Law Enforcement arrested four people and identified at least 10 victims during raids at five Massachusetts massage parlors on Tuesday. The Attorney General’s office busted businesses in Hadley, East Longmeadow, Northampton, Agawam and Framingham. The Attorney General’s office says the leaders, Feng Ling Liu and Shuzi Li, offered sexual favors with these alleged victims for a fee.
UMass professor Donna Sabella told 22News human trafficking doesn’t always start with the intention of sex trafficking. “Sometimes people who are trafficked for labor, such as at farms, and factories and in massage parlors, etc. You’re not having sex, but you can be forced to have sex, so it crosses the line,” said Sabella.
In an unrelated raid, State Police detectives executed a search warrant at the Feeding Hills Spa on Tuesday for suspected human trafficking.
Sabella told 22News the criteria for human trafficking is force, fraud or coercion. “They might be told to come over here there’s a job babysitting or there’s a job working in a restaurant and when they get here well that’s gone so now you owe me money you need to do this, often times people are threatened if they obey what they’re told to do,” said Sabella.
Before these arrests, the 22News I-Team had a two part investigation into human trafficking in November, to see those stories click here.
National Human Trafficking Resource Center
Human Trafficking News on WWLP.com
The FBI says 82 minors were rescued and 239 accused traffickers and their associates were arrested in Operation Cross Country X.
The couple allegedly recruited women through a business called “Sinful Innocence,” then forced those women to work as prostitutes.
The 22News I-Team has uncovered a disturbing trend happening in western Massachusetts, and the victims can be as young as 14-years-old.