Ten people were arrested on suspicion of offering happy endings at massage parlors in Huntington Beach, Calif.
It is unclear whether the individuals arrested were alleged prostitutes or pimps. The number of massage parlors in the Orange County beach city jumped from nine to 65 after a 2009 state law put the California Massage Therapy Council in charge of massage establishments, CBS reports. Many of the new estabilshments are believed to be illicit.
Huntington Beach Police Chief Kenneth Small urged city council last week to pass an ordinance to crack down on such parlors, the OC Weekly reports.
The police chief even read some of the advertisements aloud to the council. "Relax, sexy lady wants to rub you down," he read.
He added concern that these women might are victims of sex slavery. "Overwhelmingly based on our investigations in Huntington Beach and throughout Orange County and Southern California, the women involved in most of these massage parlors are trafficked in," said Small, who explained that many were forced to work six days a week at the coercion of pimps.
Sex slavery continues to be a problem in the U.S., with estimates of the number of sex slaves as high as 300,000. In California, voters in November overwhelming approved Proposition 35, or the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act, which strengthens penalties against human traffickers and decriminalizes prostitution for minors. However, in Jan., a federal judge issued an injunction halting implementation of the measure on free speech grounds.
Los Angeles launched an awareness campaign last year, with thousands of billboards about sex slavery on buses and brochures throughout the city.