San Jose Police released results of a year-long crackdown on illegal prostitution, including shutting down more than 100 illegal massage parlors. On Tuesday night, city leaders lifted a temporary ban on new permit applications.
“We did a total of 60 covert operations within a nine-month period and shockingly we found prostitution was occurring 90 percent of the time,” said Lt. Paul Messier of San Jose Police.
The department has beefed up enforcement with more staffing to its vice unit. The city added a dedicated code enforcement officer. San Jose Police also tracked down and educated landlords. A majority of the landlords claimed they had no idea.
"There were only two cases where the landlord actually refused to evict the tenant after we confirmed prostitution was occurring on the premise,” said Lt. Messier. “A majority of them immediately took action.”
“Looking at the ads these businesses were placing on adult web sites,” said Judi Zamora of San Jose. “I was concerned about exploitation of young girls.”
Zamora organized protests against illegal massage parlors and said the program is long overdue. She's now concerned with an uptick in permit applications. Police said there are more than 60 applications.
“I think it's a little bit of a red flag,” said Zamora. “I’m glad businesses are going through the right channels
to get approved. I don't think we can just sit back.”
Police said it's difficult to prosecute traffickers but they're hitting illegal businesses where it hurts.
“By shutting down their businesses, we are hitting them in their pocketbook,” said Lt. Messier. “That's what this business is all about. That's what human trafficking is all about, money and exploiting people.”