Waco: Illicit massage businesses no longer in operation, authorities say

County and federal authorities served warrants at this Waco massage parlor in March 2016. (Photo by Bethany Moore/file)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) The arrest of Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots on sex solicitation charges in connection with his visits to an illegal massage parlor has sparked new conversation about human trafficking of the women involved in those businesses.

The McLennan County Sheriff's Office has partnered with the Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition and UnBound to stop the flow of young Asian women into these illicit massage businesses, six of which have been closed over the past two and a half years.

McLennan County sheriff’s Detective Joseph Scaramucci leads the department in investigating and shutting down such businesses.

"So we were able to start building organized crime cases and human trafficking cases very early because we took the stance against the traffickers and not the victims,” he said.

Scaramucci says his department works closely with Unbound and the HOT Human Trafficking Coalition.

"Our agency may be making arrests but it's the entire coalition of the entire group that's doing this together to make it work."

National Director of UnBound, Susan Peters says eradicating these Massage parlors has also been given a boost by local leaders.

"The support that we have with our mayor and city Council and leaders saying hey we don't want this to go on in our community has absolutely stopped it."

By arresting the traffickers and not the victims, Peters says a message has been sent to the whole community, including the owners of the businesses.

"They can get 10 to 40 years it depends on what they get on them. They are trafficking human beings, keeping them in modern day slavery."

Scaramucci says he doesn't see any of the parlors that were offering sex for money that were closed, ever coming back, but says his department must still keep a watch for new ones.

"So with at least in the illicit massage business we have made a really good dent shutting those places down and making them inoperable, so they're not reopening and not coming back."

Scaramucci has helped train law enforcement officers all over the country in recognizing human trafficking.

He will travel this spring with Peters and others with UnBound to Mongolia, to train law enforcement officers there.

It's believed thousands of young women are being trafficked from Mongolia to the United States and around the world.