Factors of Successful Massage Ordinances

Cities that have successfully used ordinances to create an inoperable environment for illicit massage businesses (IMBs) as part of their anti-human trafficking efforts have a balance of effective prevention and strong enforcement measures. First, they focus on preventing the initial establishment of IMBs via rigorous application processes that check applicants’ backgrounds and certify their licenses. Second, they implement swift, tough corrective measures for ordinance violations to sustain impact.

The Network reviewed massage ordinances from cities around the country and conducted interviews with police departments, city councils, and code enforcement officials to find the common elements in jurisdictions that have deterred IMBs from operating there. To add rigor, we checked the claims of local officials and media reports against our own data: cities with highlighted successes below are those where our data shows either the significant reduction or the elimination of IMB presence since the passage of their ordinances.

According to our research and interviews, ordinances contain provisions that generally fall into the two equally important categories of preventing the opening of IMBs via a thorough application process and/or attempting to regulate characteristics and behaviors associated with IMBs.

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Methodology & Process

About Our Research

Research and analysis is where we interpret, synthesize, and validate information–it’s where actionable intelligence is born. Our reports discuss a range of topics, including deeper dives into trafficker’s business operations, strategic opportunities for disruption, and suggestions for addressing key intelligence gaps. All of our research currently focuses on one type of trafficking–the US illicit massage industry.