We were reminded recently, by Rep. Frank Wolf, that many Asian massage parlors in Northern Virgnia serve as “a modern-day form of slavery,” because their employees are forced to work long hours under poor conditions to pay off their immigration-related debts.
Prompted by research from the Polaris Project, a national anti-human trafficking organization, Wolf in October pushed the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force to crack down on the unassuming-looking places in industrial parks and office buildings. Last week, the task force leapt back into the fray, visiting 61 massage parlors during a seven-hour sweep Wednesday afternoon.
The sweep involved 40 Fairfax County police officers, task force members from ICE, Virginia State Police, the FBI, Prince William, Vienna and Herndon police, the State Department, plus zoning, licensing and fire officials. The Polaris Project also attended to help with assisting any possible human trafficking victims.
Fortunately, none of those were found Wednesday, Fairfax police said. In fact, 38 of the 61 visited weren’t even open, which may be a function of visiting massage parlors in the middle of the afternoon. But of the 23 the task force visited, they did find licensing violations at seven of them, in Herndon, Vienna, Falls Church and Alexandria.
“We will continue to be vigilant on this heart-wrenching and tragic problem,” Fairfax Lt. Chris Marsh said. For a more in-depth look at the dilemma, go here.