The Urban Institute just published an extensive study on the human trafficking industry in the U.S., covering multiple years and 8 cities who are known to have the most prevalent trafficked populations. Atlanta was one of the cities studied, and the findings are very telling of the strong connections between human trafficking and the immigrant populations in this city.
Atlanta’s three most profitable forms of the commercial sex trade are Latino brothels, erotic massage parlors, and traditional street and online prostitution. All of these forms involve immigrants, mostly women smuggled from other countries for the sole purpose of being sold for sex.
Latino brothels occur in a high degree all across Atlanta. Lured primarily from Tenancingo and Tlaxcala, Mexico, an area known for trafficking, these women are promised romance, marriage, and support. They end up in brothels, cantinas, or making house calls, servicing fifty clients a day.
Erotic massage parlors, highly concentrated on Buford Highway between Duluth and Doraville (see map below), employ older Asian women who have been smuggled into the U.S. with promises of a new and better life. Most are from Korea, though there are some from Thailand and Indonesia, and many were sex workers in their home countries, accepting these supposedly better jobs to send money to their families. They are allowed to keep tips, but those are usually taken from them to “pay off their smuggling debt.” Most of the time, that money is never used to pay off their debt.
Traditional street prostitution, most well-known in the Fulton Industrial area, shows evidence of trafficked victims as well, though not primarily from any specific country or region.
These findings by the Urban Institute will help law enforcement and those who work with human trafficking victims to understand the patterns and dangers of this industry, and how close to home this problem really is. For the summary of the study, click HERE.