What is the Illicit Massage Industry?

The Illicit Massage Industry (IMI) is arguably one of the largest forms of human trafficking in the United States.

An illicit massage business (IMB) is an establishment that puts on the façade of a legitimate massage business in order to facilitate commercial sex services. As of 2022, we assess there are over 11,000 IMBs operating in all 50 states. As a whole, this national industry generates an estimated $4.3 billion a year in illicit revenue.

To be clear: the IMI is not random nor harmless. Traffickers are organized, coordinated, and terribly effective. Whether in big cities or small towns, they are enabling and profiting off the exploitation and trafficking of women all across the country.

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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.

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