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L.A. County may begin routine inspections of massage parlors for signs of sex trafficking

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn previewed a proposal Tuesday to have massage parlors routinely inspected by health officials looking for signs of sex trafficking.

“Human trafficking is not constrained to sex trafficking, but also for people who might be forced to work or people who might not be receiving appropriate payment for their services. Some people are now calling it labor trafficking,'' Hahn said. “And I fear that this is happening right here in our backyard, particularly (in) places like massage parlors.”

Hahn said public health personnel are trained to identify signs of human trafficking and available to conduct inspections on request from city managers. However, city officials in the 4th District, which she represents, want the county to pass an ordinance making inspections mandatory, Hahn said.

Supervisor Hilda Solis co-authored Hahn’s motion on the issue, set to be formally considered next Tuesday.

“It is a big problem,” Solis said, adding that she hoped an ordinance covering unincorporated county communities would spur cities to follow suit. Though Hahn focused on labor violations, some arrests have targeted sex acts at massage parlors.

In September, sheriff's officials reported the arrest of three women from three massage parlors in Santa Clarita on solicitation charges after an undercover operation that included city and state inspectors. The county's efforts to control sex trafficking have focused most recently on customers, rather than those selling sex.

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