This Network call to action was due to a recognition both nationally and here in Iowa that some massage therapy businesses are being used as a front for prostitution and sex trafficking. Many of these illicit massage businesses are advertising on hidden websites.
This is the vehicle by which traffickers attract their customers who then become sexual abusers of trafficked victims. Recently, in Dubuque Iowa there were two arrests for human trafficking and two fraudulent massage businesses were closed.
Several women were rescued and are receiving services and safety. Progress towards an ordinance is slow and more cities and towns still need to be approached.
Please let the Network Administrator, George Belitsosknow of any ificant progress or if your city should be added to this list. A recent Des Moines Register watchdog probe found that more than two dozen businesses in Des Moines area were trying to lure massage customers with suggestive photos and advertising on such online sites as back and Craigslist.
These sites have frequently been used for sex trafficking and prostitution.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline program, Polaris, identified Des Moines as a top area for concern after monitoring sex solicitation on paid internet sites. The City of Johnston is still the only Iowa community that has adopted and implemented a local massage ordinance.
In recognition of this outstanding contribution to fighting sex trafficking, the Iowa NAHT recently recognized the city of Johnston, its mayor, and chief of police with a plaque shown below:.
Those shown include from left to right Dennis McDaniel, Johnston Police Chief, a local police officer who enforces the Johnston massage ordinance, mayor Paula Dierenfeld holding the plaque, and the chair of the board of directors of the Iowa Network, Dr. George Belitsos. The mayor of the city of Johnston talked about how enforcement has led to the closing of 2 illicit massage businesses and prevention of a third business from even opening.
The mayor also warned that as these illicit businesses leave Johnston, they may quickly move to another nearby community where enforcement and oversight may not exist. The mayor encouraged other Iowa cities and towns to adopt similar massage business ordinances in order to root out prostitution and trafficking and thereby restore the credibility of the massage therapy industry.
The chief also offered to assist other law enforcement departments and cities, and Chief McDaniel is open to answering questions about the ordinance. Chief Dennis McDaniel can be contacted at the following address: dmcdaniel cityofjohnston. The Johnston police department has published the following case studies of the two nefarious massage businesses it has closed as a result of enforcement of the city massage ordinance.
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