Skip to main content

tv   Trafficked Slavery in America  MSNBC  July 21, 2013 8:00pm-9:01pm PDT

8:00 pm
from san francisco's sleepy residential row houses to secret underground rooms just blocks from the city's most exclusive real estate, officials say young women and girls have been forced into an unbearable life of sexual servitude.
8:01 pm
>> forced to become endentured domestic workers or sex slaves, selling their bodies. >> they're going in that room right there. >> trapped in the land of the free with no way out. >> human trafficking is real. >> you're under arrest for prostitution. >> we have seen anyone as young as 7, to anyone as old as 75 years old. >> relying on the kindness of strangers to free them from captivity. >> this is something i would never expect here. >> open the door, sheriff's office. >> while devoted public servants do their best to fight those who prey on the vulnerable for big profits. >> it's nothing but modern day slavery. >> msnbc presents "trafficked -- slavery in america." today in the u.s., the invisible reach of human trafficking stretches from houston to california's most affluent suburbs.
8:02 pm
it is a growing menace sustained by america's need for cheap labor and underground sex. tonight, msnbc returns to houston where one third of all illegals come into the country. young women in asia, trafficked and trapped into selling their bodies and dignity for cash. for those who find it hard to believe that sex slavery is alive and well in modern america, the human trafficking task force invites nonbelievers to ride along for a day in the life. >> well, houston is a hub. >> bruce carr has a federally funded human trafficking task force for harris county, texas. >> we have a big problem in the houston area with a lot of spas popping up in the outlying areas in the county. >> we're going to work off of case number 58187. >> they root out sex traffickers, hiding behind the
8:03 pm
in sex parlors and spas. >> we're going to go to the vip spa. >> today's target, one of the 500 spas who uses women who have been illegally trafficked from asia. >> this is the advertisements that they're advertising right here. they're talking about sexy asian girls. then they're saying open seven days a week. >> they do little to hide the fact that there's sex for sales. page through dozens of online sites and buyers can hand pick the type of girl they want right down to her ethnicity and bra size. today's target is a place in the past where officers have rescued trafficked women, but after shutting it down, it's reopened under new ownership. this brings investigators back for another look. >> we'll be going out to this location to do a raid on the spa, get the girl, hopefully interview some other girls that may be there, take that
8:04 pm
information back as well as make the arrest and hopefully we can secure other evidence inside that business to indicate prostitution. >> the team heads out hoping to make a dent in an xrags that's especially difficult to stop. >> seems like you knock one down and ten more pop-up. >> with seemingly insatiable demand for easy sex bringing loads of cash to the underground sex industry, carr says police face a never-ending battle, one with high stakes and real human costs. >> it's not a victimless crime. i don't know any female that woke up one day and said i'm going to be a prostitute today. they got talked into it, tricked into it. some pimp out there is making a ton of money off the services of this poor girl. >> the crew rendezvous in an alley to suit up. officers gear up and hide their
8:05 pm
faces with ski masks so they don't recognize them when they come back to do undercover work. they send in three undercover officers beforehand. >> we're goingconfirm that prostitution is during and we'll do a raid shortly there after. >> we're going to send the first one in. >> it quickly knows about clear that business is booming at vip. >> another customer just walked in. >> they had a lot of customers going in. >> the undercover officers don't want to raise the suspicions of the owners. so when the takedown happens they've been instructed to continue acting as if they're regular johns. >> okay, start moving up to the backdoor and let me know when you're ready. >> finally after watching a civilian leave, officer "x" makes the call to move in. >> okay. we're across. we're across. >> fall in behind them. >> open the door.
8:06 pm
sheriff's office, open the door. >> go into the back, go into the back. >> officers sweep the massage parlor, detaining the johns in the rooms. >> all the female employees go into room number seven. >> officers flee scantily clad young women as they attempt to flee. >> she looks young. >> we'll get i.d.'s on these girls. find out where their stuff is at. >> do you speak english? how about you? >> young, scared and foreign. the women pretend they don't understand english. what they don't know is they've already been secretly recorded speaking perfect english when they solicited undercover officers for sex. >> where are you from? >> from the korea. >> our producer happens to speak korean, and confirms the young women are here illegally. >> how old are they, do you know? >> not yet.
8:07 pm
we haven't id'd them. >> how old do they say they are? >> 30. >> 30? >> yes. >> okay. yeah. uh-huh. >> and this one? >> 31. >> there's no way she's 31 years old, ma'am. there's no way. >> how long have they been here? >> i don't know. >> the three working girls keep their head down and let the older one who police suspect is the brothel manager do all the talking. >> you the mama san? >> the woman persistently denies being in a position of authority and plays dumb. >> what we usually find is clorox bottles. >> coming up, investigators search and find the physical evidence they need to make a prostitution case at vip. >> this is how they hide used condoms. >> and that's a sure sign it's not just massage going on here. would it surprise you if i told you there's prostitution going
8:08 pm
on here? s. tiny changes in the brain. little things anyone can do. it steals your memories. your independence. ensures support a breakthrough. and sooner than you'd like. sooner than you'd think. you die from alzheimer's disease. we cure alzheimer's disease. every little click, call or donation adds up to something big.
8:09 pm
[ male announcer ] if you had a dollar, for every dollar car insurance companies say they'll save you by switching, you'd have like a ton of dollars. but how're they saving you those dollars? a lot of companies might answer "um" or "no comment." then there's esurance. born online, raised by technology and majors in efficiency. so whatever they save you save. hassle, time, paperwork hair-tearing out and yes, especially dollars. esurance. now backed by allstate. click or call.
8:10 pm
harris county's human trafficking task force has carefully orchestrated a sting operation at this houston massage parlor, renowned for trafficking foreign women. police are now seeking to better understand how the korean women got there. >> how old are you? >> 27. >> 27? >> when initially questioned, all three women say they've only been in the country for a few days. as the team searches the facilities, all the tell-tale signs of trafficking reveal themselves. from the atm in the lobby to the cramped living
8:11 pm
space filled with mattresses and personal items. the investigators have no doubt the owner is exploiting the women by selling sex for cash. >> most of these businesses have living quarters like this in them. as you can see, their beds here, their suitcase is there. they rarely, they don't even unpack. they keep their clothes in their suitcases. this is their home while they're here. >> officers say traffickers keep the women as virtual prisoners who must eat, sleep and work within these four walls, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. >> with surveillance monitors and a manager who controls their every move, the workers are expected to follow a strict protocol. >> this is what is known as your table shower where you pay for the services here, and they would strip you down, put you on there and do a complete table shower for you. and then usually you make a deal for the sex right there. sometimes in this room, sometimes in a different room.
8:12 pm
>> the reason they bring you here is to separate their clients from their clothes so they can look for any type of listening device or check through their wallets to see if they have any money and if they're law enforcement of any kind. >> make sure they're not in here. >> sometimes they hide the unwrapped condoms in these bath towels. with we need to check through them just in case we need to use them as evidence. they're not what you would think, the individually wrapped ones. they buy them in bulk and they hide them in any household item you can imagine. that happened to be a coffee mate jar. that's easy to find. if you open up the top, you can see the coffee mate. it has a screw-in bottom, as you can see. >> how long have you been here? typically, we try to interview the girls.
8:13 pm
they deny they can't speak english. however, 20 minutes ago or the day before we came in here and spoke with them in english. it is very common for them to be uncooperative at first. >> this young woman says she's only been in houston for three days. at first while the mama san is talking, she refuse to think talk but once they're separated, she confides that she doesn't want to do this type of work and wants to go back home. >> your green card? >> yeah, green card. are you a resident? >> this woman insists she left her green card at home in california. she denies selling sex for cash. but officers soon find evidence to the contrary.
8:14 pm
>> i found used condoms inside. i went ahead and cut it open to show you that this is how they hide used condoms. >> that's a sign that it's not just massage going on in here? >> correct. >> we tried to get some straightforward answers. >> would it surprise you if i told you there was prostitution going on here? >> i don't know. >> would it surprise you, though, if i told you that? >> i don't know anything about it, so. >> and what about the condoms that we found? >> i don't know. >> they were in the laundry area in a clorox bottle. there was no bleach, just used condoms. >> i don't know. >> but you're doing the laundry, right? >> yeah. >> do you use the bleach? >> i do use the bleach. >> that's the bleach that you use? >> yes. >> there are people who say you're the person running this massage parlor. >> i don't know who say that. who say that? i don't know. >> msnbc learned that this
8:15 pm
self-proclaimed housekeeper is no stranger to police. in 2005, local and federal officers raided a california spa she owned where korean girls were selling sex for cash. young women just like these. >> do you sleep here? >> this girl known as cherry approached two undercover officers today and will most likely be charged with prostitution. >> what's your name? how long have you been here? >> three day. >> three days? >> yes. >> where did you come from? >> from l.a. >> l.a.? >> she says she's from korea, seoul. that's what she told me. she said she's been here for three days and she came from l.a. >> her immigration status will have to be checked. >> does she have a green card? >> no, just a passport. she travels a lot. >> meanwhile, officers search her purse for the money the undercover cops gave her earlier today.
8:16 pm
>> $500, $600. >> officers find $907. >> ma'am, you're under arrest for prostitution. do you understand what i'm saying? >> the team has what they need to charge her with prostitution. they hope that by booking her and interviewing her away from the mamasan, they may be able to learn valuable information about the criminal network behind massage parlors. and hopefully help her get out of the life. >> only one get to jail, the other girls we identified, they just arrived or said they have been here for a few days. while much of federal funding goes towards fighting sex traffickers, human rights advocates say there's a much more insidious kind of slavery that occurs behind closed doors. men, women and children as domestic servants or factory workers. >> i feel like a slave. i don't have money, i don't have my passport.
8:17 pm
and i don't have anybody. sex drive but not energy or even my mood. that's when i talked with my doctor. he gave me some blood tests... showed it was low t. that's it. it was a number. [ male announcer ] today, men with low t have androgel 1.62% testosterone gel. the #1 prescribed topical testosterone replacement therapy increases testosterone when used daily. women and children should avoid contact with application sites. discontinue androgel and call your doctor if you see unexpected signs of early puberty in a child, or signs in a woman which may include changes in body hair or a large increase in acne possibly due to accidental exposure. men with breast cancer or who have or might have prostate cancer, and women who are or may become pregnant or are breast-feeding should not use androgel. serious side effects include worsening of an enlarged prostate possible increased risk of prostate cancer lower sperm count, swelling of ankles, feet, or body enlarged or painful breasts problems breathing during sleep and blood clots in the legs. tell your doctor about your medical conditions and medications especially insulin corticosteroids,
8:18 pm
or medicines to decrease blood clotting. in a clinical study, over 80% of treated men had their t levels restored to normal. talk to your doctor about all your symptoms. get the blood tests. change your number. turn it up. androgel 1.62%. [ human league plays "i'm only human" ] humans. even when we cross our t's and dot our i's, we still run into problems. namely, other humans. which is why at liberty mutual insurance, auto policies come with new car replacement and accident forgiveness if you qualify. see what else comes standard at liberty mutual insurance. responsibility. what's your policy?
8:19 pm
every day we're working to be an even better company - and to keep our commitments. and we've made a big commitment to america. bp supports nearly 250,000 jobs here. through all of our energy operations, we invest more in the u.s. than any other place in the world. in fact, we've invested over $55 billion here in the last five years - making bp america's largest energy investor. our commitment has never been stronger.
8:20 pm
>> in the last decade, cash profits from sex trafficking have driven the pro live rags of massage parlors in virtually every city in america. but experts say the trafficking of men, women and children for labor is much more common. from indentured servitude in hotels, restaurants and factories, advocates say that modern day slavery is alive and well in even the most affluent of homes. for four long years, a family in suburban san francisco enslaved lily samat, a native of indonesia. >> i feel like a slave because i don't feel money, i don't have a passport, i don't have anybody. if i run away. i say, you know, maybe somebody will kill me. >> in 2002, the family hired lily, then 24 years old to be a nanny. they promised her a steady salary and a nice home. instead, lily says, the demanding diplomat, imprisoned
8:21 pm
her, abused her and forced her to work 20 hour days, seven days a week for no day. and where did this modern day slavery take place? in one of the most up scale neighborhoods in the san francisco bay area. >> i mean, this is something i would never expect here. it's just -- i think it's just preposterous. >> heidi lived just four doors down. shortly after they moved in heidi couldn't help but notice the frail young girl wearing the same threadbare jogging suit every time i saw her. >> the thing that i noticed was she was washing the car every day. she washed this car from top to bottom every single day, whether it was raining or cold or warm. we thought what a strange thing. why would some young girl have to come out and wash the car every single day.
8:22 pm
>> lily says it was only a fraction of her responsibilities. every day began with the feeding of twins, a 7-year-old girl and boy who were not even allowed to carry their own books to the car. in addition to the household chores cooking and cleaning her jobs included carrying the diplomat's briefcase to and from the car and being available at all hours of the day and night to serve him. >> late at night, he was asking me to make tea at 1:00. so i don't know. it's like 24 hours. >> lily says her captors started controlling her right away from the moment she first arrived at their house in the middle east. she then was forced to travel with them to the u.s. there she says, they would lock her indoors whenever they would leave the house. >> and even if they are inside the house, they would lock the door and hide the key. >> the problem is huge. >> human trafficking attorney cindy lu says there are thousands of lilies hiding in
8:23 pm
plain sight in america. >> how do you count a population by its very nature and definition that's hidden from you. >> the organization asian pacific islander legal outreach represents over 200 victims of forced labor trafficking in the san francisco area. but according to a 2004 report from the u.s. department of justice, an estimated 14 to 17,000 people are trafficked into the united states every year. making the crime as prevalent has homicide. put to work in popular restaurants, major hotel chains and factories, these silent victims, says lu, are the human cost of the low prices customers pay for food and services in big cities like san francisco. >> we' seen anyone as young as 7, anyone as old as 75 years old. men and women. we've also seen sex trafficking cases. but also a lot of labor cases so that involving domestic servitude, hotel restaurant work.
8:24 pm
>> and says liou, when they're wealthy foreigners or diplomats, they have little incentive 20 respect u.s. laws. >> heidi who works out of her home would often see lily when she went to pick up the mail. >> once in a while, she would be there and she would see me standing there getting my mail. she would fly over and start talking to me. and she had this beaming expression on her face as if she was so happy to be talking to another human being. >> even though lily didn't initially convey any distress, heidi slowly began to have concerns about the welfare of the harried young woman. >> it was always clear to me she did not have much time to chat. she would say i have to go now, i must go, almost like she was afraid someone would see her. >> meanwhile, lily began to confide in heidi, one brief
8:25 pm
conversation at a time. heidi pieced together the ugly and unrelenting reality of lily's daily life. >> she had to work from morning till night, midnight till 1:00 in the morning, 2:00 in the morning, 18 hours of work, seven days a week. no holiday, no days off, no ability to go anywhere, visit her parents, nothing. and then after a while, she told me she was never paid. and i thought what a strange thing. >> for many, it's hard to understand why lily didn't just run away. but cindy liou says it's important to see the situation from lily's perspective. >> in the beginning, it doesn't register it's necessarily really fishy. they think oh, this is normal, this is what's expected. >> in fact, she had a good experience working as an international nanny. at 15 she left indonesia to work for a diplomat in saudi arabia. the family treated her well, paying for her vacation time,
8:26 pm
taking her with her to europe and teaching her arabic and french. so when she received an offer to work for another diplomat, she leaped at the chance. >> i'm so happy because i heard they're really nice people. >> but this family could not have been more different. after two years, lily finally persuaded her captors to send $1,000 home to her family. afraid and isolated, she didn't dare ask for more. >> no one wants to take a chance of putting their own family at risk. >> cindy says degradation and threats are powerful tools used to control the situation. threats like -- >> we'll hurt your family, or maybe we'll report you to the authority and tell them that you're the one who's doing something wrong, you're here illegally and it's your fault. no one is going to believe you. >> after years of isolation and
8:27 pm
humiliation, lily was near her breaking point. she began to fear she would spend her whole life enslaved to the diplomat and his family. with no one to help her, she turned to the only friendly face she knew. >> someone knocked on the door, i opened the door and there was lily. >> i was crying. i said, please help me. >> i realized now, what am i going to do with her? what can i do? >> coming up, the good neighbor helps lily find her freedom. cept when it's too cold. like the last three weekends. asthma doesn't affect my job... you missed the meeting again last week! it doesn't affect my family. your coughing woke me up again. i wish you'd take me to the park. i don't use my rescue inhaler a lot... depends on what you mean by a lot. coping with asthma isn't controlling it. test your level of control at then talk to your doctor. there may be more you could do for your asthma. hello! is this where we do that bundling thing? let's see what you got. rv, covered.
8:28 pm
-why would you pay for a hotel? -i never do. motorcycles, check. atv. i ride those. -do you? -no. boat. -house? -hello, dear. -hello. -hello. oh! check this -- [ hip hop music playing ] i'm going on break! the more you bundle, the more you save. now that's progressive. "stubborn love" by the lumineers did you get my email? i did. so what did you think of the house? did you see the school ratings? oh, you're right. hey babe, i got to go. bye daddy! have a good day at school, ok? ...but what about when my parents visit? ok. i just love this one... and it's next to a park. i love it. i love it too. here's our new house... daddy! you're not just looking for a house. you're looking for a place for your life to happen.
8:29 pm
chinese state and media reports at least three people are dead in central china after a 5.9 magnitude quake struck there. the rescue crews are on the 15. officials say there is no significant damage. the quake hit a mostly rural
8:30 pm
region. the bodies of three women wrapped in plastic have been found in a suburban cleveland neighborhood. police say they expect to find more victims. a suspect is in custody but he has not been charged just yet. we'll stay on top of that story for you. after four years of living the punishing life of a modern day slave in this pristine suburb of northern california, 24-year-old lily samad had lost all hope. working up to 22 hours a day for a demanding diplomat and his family, lily says her employers even made her work when she had debilitating fevers. penniless because the family refused to pay her, she lived a life of desperate isolation and growing depression. >> she is my everything. >> back in indonesia, lily's husband heard nothing from his wife for three long years. he feared that she was dead.
8:31 pm
>> who can i call somebody here? i don't know. because she don't have phone number, didn't give me a number. it's really hard. no communication with her. >> finally in 2006, lily reached a breaking point. the diplomat's wife who insisted lily wash the car, even in the rain accused the obedient lily of shirking her duties. >> i cleaned the car inside and outside. and everything. she said to me, why don't you clean the car? i will you every day you have to clean the car. i was really, really mad. i went in the bathroom and stayed there. i said i cannot fight with her. i said if i see heidi, i will pack my stuff and just leave. >> someone knocked on the door. i opened the door and there was lily. >> i was crying. i said please help me. >> so i took her in.
8:32 pm
alarmed, heidi hid lily in the back of her car under a blanket and took her to the local police. the local police directed them to the fbi where she was identified as a victim of human trafficking. when lily's employer went to police asking them to find her, they refused, saying she had left voluntarily. panicked about being exposed, lily's oppressor pressured the indonesian embassy to get her out of the u.s. >> the diplomat had run to the indonesian consulate and said i will pay her what i owe her on the condition that i see her ticket going back to indonesia and that she does not speak to anyone. so i thought, well, i don't think that's acceptable. that's basically a form of blackmail. >> if you're a diplomat and you do have diplomatic immunity, there's very little the u.s. government can do to
8:33 pm
criminally prosecute you get forms of recovery. >> cindy lou says workers like lily suffer extreme abuse. if their employer happens to be a diplomat, special circumstances shield them from any kind of u.s. prosecution. it is called diplomatic immunity. it means that high-ranking foreign diplomats who work inside the united states cannot be arrested or prosecuted for criminal activity. as incredible as it sounds, some diplomats have gotten away with rape and murder in the united states. >> a lot of these diplomats are really powerful people in the country that they're from, and a lot of our clients still have family members in that country. unless you can secure the safety of those family members first, there's a lot of maneuvering to be done without just slapping down a criminal case immediately. >> unsure how to proceed, heidi and her family continued to hide lily with the diplomat just two
8:34 pm
doors down heidi lived in constant fear of discovered by a man they considered very dangerous, a man she knew could murder them and never face charges. >> i was very nervous. in fact, there were many nights that i lost a lot of sleep because i thought, oh, my heavens, what's going to happen? >> for months, they lived as if trapped in a surreal spy novel. lily stayed hidden in their upstairs bedroom for days at a time. occasionally heidi would sneak her out of the house. >> of course, i was frightened that they would see her. so what i used to do is whenever we went from the kitchen to the garage, i would have a coat over myself and she would walk next to me and we would slowly march into the garage. once she was in the garage she would be in the backseat and i would put the coat over here and i would put empty shopping backs on top. >> six months heidi protected lily while a lawyer friend attempted to recover the $6,000
8:35 pm
in back wages that lily had been promised. as a last resort, heidi wrote a strongly worded letter to the consulate at the embassy where the diplomat worked. >> when i sent this letter to the consul general and ended up saying a group of concerned citizens would like for you to please take care of this because we do not want this to go into an international incident or to get into the papers or anything like this. >> nine months after fleeing her captor, lily finally received the $6,000, as promised in her original contract. and what was the final cost per hour for her three years of labor? about 23 cents an hour. in 2009, lily was finally reunited with her husband andy and had a baby girl in october later that year. >> she support me to get better in life and everything.
8:36 pm
>> she's really everything for me. because without her, i don't know how to do. she's really understand me, and she is really -- i mean, she is everything. >> hello, suchi. how are you? beautiful baby. >> today, lily is in the u.s. on a legal visa, and works as a nanny in san francisco. >> my life now is very happy and i have my baby and my husband also, he is here. you know, so it's -- now it's really happy that my life has really changed. >> it's not forever. >> no, only four years. >> while lily's story of modern day slavery ended happily, she
8:37 pm
said lily represents a tiny fraction of those who silently suffer. liou says for every lily, there are hundreds of other workers trapped in servitude and sex slavely in the u.s. who aren't empowered enough to run and seek help. >> if you are residing in the country where you feel like the laws don't apply to you and can't protect you, you're never going to feel safe. >> hello, inspections. please open the door. >> police. >> coming up, san francisco's health department cracks down on human trafficking in the city by the bay. this man is about to be the millionth customer. would you mind if i go ahead of you? instead we had someone go ahead of him and win fifty thousand dollars. congratulations you are our one millionth customer. nobody likes to miss out. that's why ally treats all their customers the same.
8:38 pm
whether you're the first or the millionth. if your bank doesn't think you're special anymore you need an ally. ally bank. your money needs an ally.
8:39 pm
[ female announcer ] made just a little sweeter... because all these whole grains aren't healthy unless you actually eat them ♪ ♪ multigrain cheerios. also available in delicious peanut butter. healthy never tasted so sweet.
8:40 pm
since 2004, san francisco's health department has been in the business of putting sex traffickers, particularly those
8:41 pm
running illegal massage parlors out of business. one of its lead investigators is ed walsh. >> initially, i was kind of naive to some of the stuff that goes on. i've never been to a massage parlor as a customer or anything like that. i knew there was sex going on, but i didn't know how it worked. >> walsh got a quick lesson about six years ago. >> hello, inspections. let me take a look over here. when we first took over the program, i went into a facility where there were women sitting on towels on couches. and when i went in to check their id's i asked why they were sitting on towels. i asked them to get up. when they stood up, there was blood on the towels. they were bleeding from their rectum or their vagina. the first time i ever saw something like that. it just blew me away. i couldn't believe it. >> dr. johnson ojo heads up the mayor's human trafficking task force. >> the task force has been very, very effective in reducing the
8:42 pm
number of illegal massage establishments in san francisco. >> come out here, please. thank you. we issued about 500 citations. >> can i see your i.d.'s? >> fines to the tune of, $500,000, and we closed about 40 to 50 establishments. today we are going to be going out for a joint inspection. >> today, the health department is backed up by inspectors from the fire department, building and code enforcement, as well as the city attorney. they are working together to help build cases against human traffickers and establishments running illegal prostitution parlors. >> that girl that was there, that was the one that solicited a police officer? >> in fact, the task force has been so successful that many of the downtown operators have scattered, choosing instead to hide behind phony fronts inside the city's quiet residential neighborhoods. >> what we do with this one, if we go late enough at night, there's a salon in front. and the salon is just for hair
8:43 pm
cutting. he closes at 6:00. so when all the lights get turned off, they're in the back. hello, hi. inspectors, please open the door. >> police. >> hi. >> police department. >> do you want to put a towel on that customer there. >> my focus initially is on the masseuse. i need to id her and find out if she has a license. >> in the room next door, another customer is stunned when the lights come on and then even more shocked to see our cameras. when the inspectors try to identify the masseuse, the massage parlor manager plays dumb. >> i don't know. >> you speak mandarin. i want her to give me her id. >> she was in the room with the customer. >> yeah, and the customer had no clothes on.
8:44 pm
>> oh. >> there was an online it says practitioner was in that room providing massage to client. we all saw it, but when we ask her for her name, she won't tell us. when we ask for id, she will not provide it. >> let's get the customer to talk. excuse me, sir, do you speak mandarin? can you come here for a second. we want her to show us an id. [ speaking foreign language ] >> she forgot it. >> she has no id with her right now? >> do you have id? >> good luck cards? phone number? >> you have a lot of money in here. wow. no id, though. >> when an immigrant does not have any identification on
8:45 pm
themselves, those are indication that somebody is in charge of her day to day movement. and that there's a likelihood that that person has been trafficked. >> you employ the services of online practitioner. >> she was working, she was in there. don't argue with me. don't argue with me. i went in there with a police officer and myself. the man has no clothes on, she's standing over him. okay? there's no argument there. >> the massage parlor is cited and closed down for the night. >> so you're going home. >> okay. >> early today. >> and inspectors move on down the line to another trouble spot. >> supposedly a john in here. saw somebody walk in. yeah. >> as soon as we walked in, this one masseuse got very, very nervous. >> how are you?
8:46 pm
>> we went right into the rooms and we saw this gentleman on the table getting ready for a massage. >> hi, sir. are you dressed? why don't you get dressed. >> who has a permit here. who's working right now? >> this is a customer. she knew she didn't have a permit. but the person in the room was just here to order food. >> one customer inside. >> you give him massage? >> no. i take him inside the room. he waiting for one person, if uh minutes to come -- >> come from where? >> pack the food. the dinner. >> the person came here to order food? that was the excuse she used. i was like i don't think so. >> inspectors then notice something very strange. the woman is wearing an ear piece and taking instructions over the phone. >> my owner call, he's coming. >> so she's talking to the owner right now. they're getting high-tech on me. >> it's beautiful nonsense.
8:47 pm
>> with all the commotion and the presence of our cameras, it seems the customer has lost his appetite. >> my inspector is going to issue you a citation because you are running without a license. as we leave her today, i want you to close your doors. >> i'm sorry, i not understand. >> you understand? you are closed. no business. >> nobody has a license here. you have to have a license. you have to have a license. you have to close now. everybody is ready to go, right? let's go. our message is you have to follow the law. that's why we're out here tonight. can i see your massage id? if you hire massage practitioners, you have to have licenses. >> you lose your id? you lose it? of. >> yeah, it's here. i don't know who takes my id. >> san francisco is not going to
8:48 pm
tolerate anyone using his or her massage establishments as front for prostitution or human trafficking. >> we are here to serve the order. >> after a two-year battle, inspectors finally pull the plug on one of san francisco's most notorious massage parlors. >> you're supposed to close effective 5:00 p.m. today. bp supports nearly 250,000 jobs here. through all of our energy operations, we invest more in the u.s. than any other place in the world. in fact, we've invested over $55 billion here in the last five years - making bp america's largest energy investor. our commitment has never been stronger. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ honey, is he too into this car thing? [ mumbling ] definitely
8:49 pm
the quattro. ♪ ♪ honey? huh? a5. what? [ sighs ] did you say something? ♪ ♪ engineer: rolling...take 13. geico's defensive driver good student and multi-policy discounts could save you hundreds of dollus. engineer: uh geico's discounts could save you hundreds of "doll-ars." it sounds like you're saying "dollus."
8:50 pm
dollus. engineer: if you could accentuate the "r" sound of "dollars." are...are... are... engineer: are... arrrrrr. arrrrr. someone bring me an eye patch, i feel like a bloomin' pirate. geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. honestly, i feel like i nailed that. it's 3:45 in downtown san francisco and while most city workers are close to ending their work day, health inspector ed walsh is just gearing up for a much-anticipated takedown. >> today we're going to go to 450-b jones, sunflower spa.
8:51 pm
>> come on out, health department. >> it's the final round in a five-year cat and mouse game between city investigators and the clever proprietors of the sunflower health spa a massage parlor offering sex for cash in the shadow of city hall. >> who is the manager? >> over the last several years with msnbc in tow, in raid after raid this massage parlor has been cited for numerous violations where the evidence of sex for sale is obvious. >> this was a house of prostitution. if you're just there for a massage, they don't want you there for a massage. they want the money for the extra service. >> built like a prison fortress and well-equipped with hidden cameras that survey a two-block radius sunflower's managers keep watch on six video monitors inside. >> so the owner has security over the girls. so they can't leave the facility. they know if they're coming or going. >> year after year authorities including the fbi received reports of young foreign women
8:52 pm
being coerced into selling sex for cash at sunflower. >> there are so many signs of trafficking. there was living quarters found in the space. holes in the walls where women who were working as so to speak massage practitioners were hiding because they didn't have licenses. >> sunflower's biggest achievement over the years was building secret hiding places to house women. the first was discovered behind a false wall in 2006. >> what is this? >> this is where they were sleeping previously. >> this was a room with a lot of mattresses personal belongings shoes. there could be about eight to ten people sleeping in that unapproved room. >> after multiple finds, sunflower finally walled up that legal living space. but two inspections later the task force discovered yet another concealed room. >> this is a mirror on the wall. behind the wall is a hole. cut into the wall. when you open it to discover
8:53 pm
there is a hole there. inside there there's a very tight space. if you look at me come out. >> the investigation of sunflower went through the looking glass when inspectors found women crammed into a cubbyhole behind this wall. >> this is probably one of the most blatant in the whole list of massage parlors in san francisco. where they just disregard the law and they're not wanting to comply with the law, they don't care. >> over the years, sunflower spared no legal expense, battling the health department and managed to stay open. >> i don't think they were in violation. >> sunflower was able to hire the best attorneys to refute all our allegations, all our evidence. took over five years to build a big enough case we thought we could revoke the permit. every time we had one of these hearings, they provided the best defense that they could with the
8:54 pm
attorneys that they're able to afford. >> but on this day, after numerous appeals, the judge gives the san francisco health department the ruling they always sought. >> ready to go sir? >> for ed walsh the decision was a long-sought victory and validation. >> ready? oh, yeah. this is it. this is great. they know it's going to happen. because they've been through the process. the final appeal to rehear the case for the board of appeals, they got denied. so they know that we're getting ready to close them. >> when the inspectors descend twon sunflower they find the proprietor somewhat reluctant to answer the doorbell. >> cover the back. >> unable to gain entry by way of the front door inspector walsh goes around back. >> as i approached the back door, the gentleman who was walking up the stairs here. how are you doing? >> how are you? >> coming out this way? can you open it please? thank you. >> thanks. >> he had his shoes in his hand. barefoot, walking out of the
8:55 pm
premises. >> san francisco police can you open the door please? >> with walsh now inside sunflower has no choice but to open up for inspection. >> anybody else here today besides you? no girls? no? >> after a quick search of the premises -- >> you have immigrant girls, there's always going to be little trap doors, hiding places. >> including all of the favorite hiding spots. >> there were girls hiding in the last time. full of shoes but the hole has been sealed up. >> investigators conclude that the massage parlor is deserted. >> we are here to serve the order indicating that your license has been revoked. >> yeah but i already sold everything in here for the new person. >> okay. >> and they do a different type of business. >> okay.
8:56 pm
>> and i supposed to be out now, take my stuff, so they can come in. >> how are you doing, man? >> when asked about the bare toot man who scrambled out the book door the proprietor told investigators he was her boyfriend. >> the guy was going out with his shoes in his hands. that shows there probably was still a lot of activities going on at that location. >> okay i posted a sign on the front door saying your permit's been revoked, do not remove it. you're supposed to close effective 5:00 p.m. today. no customers, no massage activities. okay? >> thank you. >> thank you. >> i think in 21st century, no one should tolerate anybody being used as a sex slave. i will say to it people listening out there, that human trafficking is real. and all they need to do is just take one step back imagine would they want their daughters
8:57 pm
to be in that kind of situation? we should all, those that have the ability to stop it should do everything they can to put an end to it. >> for now, the problem of human trafficking in america is a growing one. and the battlefield is nationwide involving tens of thousands of victims, many scarred for life some lost others dead. each day law enforcement is winning small victories, closing down the sunflower massage parlor and the legal battle to win lily's freedom from human servitude. it is victories like these that will help win the war against human trafficking.
8:58 pm
due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. after six years in segregation, a violent gang member asks to move back to general population. >> he trains against staff members and he trains to fight against inmates both. >> an oakland street corner becomes a memorial site for a football star. >> today is basically his
8:59 pm
9:00 pm


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on