JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced Wednesday that his office is a step closer to prosecute 15 alleged human traffickers and close six businesses who are connected. The previous Friday, a Greene County Judge issued a preliminary injunction and barred the businesses from engaging in prostitution activities.
In a raid in July, Missouri law enforcement issued warrants against 13 “massage parlors” in Greene County who are believed to be fronts for human trafficking, in what Hawley called in September, “the largest anti-trafficking raid in Missouri history.” This was only one part of a series of raids in Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana targeting an east Asian trafficking ring, who law enforcement believes to be responsible. Evidence gathered from the raids were used by the prosecution against the alleged human traffickers in court last week.
“This order sends a clear message: human trafficking and those who engage in this crime have no place in Missouri,” Hawley said. “I promised to fight human trafficking—and that’s exactly what I am doing.”
In late September, he announced the creation of a coalition of businesses to help combat human trafficking and prostitution. The group is designed to educate a number of Missourians through their business and prevent illegal activities conducted on company time or with company resources.
“This is one thing businesses can do in Missouri to discourage and turn back this behavior is to say, ‘Not on our time. Not on our resources,’” Hawley said. He hopes his actions will inspire businesses “to send a clear message to their employees that this is illegal, contributing to a system of injustice, and we are against it.”
Michael Layer is a reporter for the Missouri Times and the Missouri Times Magazine. He joined the Missouri Times in August 2017 after graduating from Goucher College the previous May. To contact Michael, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @_MichaelLayer