The charges to which the women pleaded guilty had been amended from trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, a felony carrying a minimum mandatory sentence of five years’ imprisonment.
It is a little unclear if there is a recent increase in cases or if ongoing cases are getting more attention.
Lt. Gray of North Andover said many places continue to operate because they are “flying under the radar. There may be some that are in existence as we speak. The only way we find out about them is when we get a report from a concerned citizen, or luck, so that we are made aware of them. We close them down, work with the building department and the Department of Industrial Accidents, and together we eradicate the problem.”
He said part of the reason for a proliferation of such businesses is the Internet.
“There are websites out there that advertise for these kinds of services to an underground community that will seek them out and patronize these places,” he said.
Ambrose, of Danvers, agreed that law enforcement agencies working together can often find and shut down these illegal businesses.
“Our detectives have had many phone calls from other communities asking, ‘Are you familiar with so-and-so,’” he said.
He added that it’s difficult for landlords to screen these businesses because they appear to be legal.
“They open up under completely legitimate terms,” Ambrose said. “They present themselves to the landlord, have the cash to pay the rent, and as long as they don’t cause problems to landlord, the landlord doesn’t know what they’re doing.”
Similar cases have also been reported in Vermont, New York, Florida, New Jersey, Iowa and many other places.