Scranton, Pa

Undercover Stings Reveal Continued Human Trafficking Presence in Northampton Spas

Posted: December 5, 2019

On November 14, 2019, police discovered that two women, one at Kim’s Spa in Lower Nazareth Township and one at New Green Spa in Nazareth, allegedly offered and negotiated commercial sex with undercover law enforcement officers. These discoveries, made after a collaboration between the Colonial Regional Police Department, Nazareth Police, Upper Nazareth Township Police, and the FBI, led to the arrests of the two prostituted women.

According to the media, law enforcement orchestrated two undercover stings that they allege were intended to address human trafficking. However, the officers only made arrests for prostituted. Officers went undercover into the spas and paid for a massage. During the course of the massages, the women allegedly agreed to perform sexual acts for one hundred dollars.  At Kim’s Spa, the officer was offered a sex act during the massage. At New Green Spa, the officer specifically said that he wanted sex and then negotiated a price with the prostituted woman. Two prostituted women were arrested on a third-degree misdemeanor count of prostitution. Agents later allege that they found the money they had exchanged, additional money, and condoms.

As of November 15, 2019, both spas were closed. Deputy Sargent Michael Melinski told the media “[t]hey will close down and it will go very low key for a while and then it will start building up business again.” This is not the first time Kim’s Spa has been accused of illicit activity. Kim’s Spa was allegedly in similar trouble in 2005 and 2013.

The media reported on the police department’s concern with human trafficking. The Colonial Regional Police indicated that they began focusing on combating prostitution ten years ago after instituting an initiative. “Everyone says that it is a victimless crime and it should be legalized or at least controlled and we don’t see it that way. We see [human] trafficking, we see a lot of drugs,” Colonial Regional Police Chief Roy Sieple said. Deputy Sargent Michael Melinski shared that sentiment stating “the bigger picture of this is if we can save one female from sexual trafficking, per sting, then we have done our job.”

The CSE Institute applauds the desire of law enforcement agencies to drive out human trafficking and supports efforts by law enforcement to make combating human trafficking a priority. Yet, these stings were not carried out in a way that addresses human trafficking. As a result of the sting, the only individuals arrested were two prostituted women. The CSE Institute urges law enforcement officers to focus their time and effort into holding the ones who prostitute and victimize others accountable, rather than arresting the prostituted people themselves. It is unsurprising that spas, like the ones in this article, continue to return to illicit activity. It is the demand for commercial sex, created by the sex buyers, that drives the market and causes further victimization.  As the law enforcement officers in these news stories said, human trafficking is not a victimless crime. Therefore, it is necessary for survivors of human trafficking to be supported in non-punitive, restorative ways. The CSE Institute advocates for implementation of the Nordic model, which would decriminalize the prostituted person, provide support to help prostituted persons exit the cycle, and make buying sex a criminal act.

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