San Antonio Council has voted to crack down on massage parlors, which investigators say more and more are being used as fronts for prostitution, and for sex trafficking of children, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Jamey Caruthers, attorney for the group 'Children at Risk,' says they have identified more than 70 of these seedy massage parlors in Bexar County alone.
Council approved a measure that prohibits massage parlors from being open for business between 10PM and 6AM, requires that all employees be state certified and post their licenses in a prominent place, like barbers and beauticians currently do, and also prohibit the doors of the massage parlors from being locked when the business is open.
Caruthers says the new law also allows for more inspections.
"I don't want to call it nuisance policing, let's call in community policing," he said. "Making life tougher for the bad actors.
The new ordinances also forbid burglar bars on the windows of massage parlors, and bans them from operating in any structure which is attached to another building, Massage parlors also cannot be operated out of homes, and people are forbidden from sleeping overnight in a massage parlor.
Caruthers says rather than going out of business, shady massage parlors are proliferating.
"One trend we are seeing, more and more, is they are moving into affluent neighborhoods," he said.
These new regulations do not affect chiropractors, rehab centers, or massage operations which are connected with a hotel spa.
Caruthers says currently, people who traffic in children feel increasingly empowered, and that has to stop. That's why they're seeking to help victims.
"They are frightened, there are huge cultural differences," he said. "These victims are worried about their immigration status."