DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — A new study has found that the market for illicit sex is a $99 million-a-year industry in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The study by the nonprofit Urban Institute policy research group for the Justice Department covered eight U.S. urban areas, including the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The research found that commercial sex is almost a billion-dollar industry in seven of the urban areas alone.
In Dallas, the underground sex economy is primarily composed of “pimp-controlled online and street-based sex trafficking and voluntary prostitution, with an increasing number of erotic massage parlors,” according to the study.
Meredith Dank, the lead researcher, says North Texas was unusual in that non-Asian pimps run some massage parlors and send some of their women to Asian-owned-and-operated parlors.
A Dallas law enforcement official interviewed in the study says that while some women are forcibly sex trafficked into massage parlors, they continue to voluntarily work after their debts are paid.
Sometimes you’ll get the younger ones that are actually in the massage parlors, but like I said, those are going to be true trafficking victims. And they will stay in the business because unfortunately, once they’ve worked in the business for so long, they’ve made a certain amount of money, to try to get them to come out of that culture is extremely difficult. I’ve interacted with some of the victims and they’re living on a different scale. But that’s their lifestyle that they’ve been accustomed to. So going to work at a regular job, making regular money, that’s not an easy transition for them and they don’t go into that very willingly.
Dank also said Dallas law enforcement officers reported strong ties between Dallas and Oklahoma City, with pimps shuttling between the cities. Women and girls are either recruited in Oklahoma City or come to Dallas independently.
The study also found that pimps in the Dallas area make significantly less than other major markets. The average pimp brings in $12,025 per week in Dallas; the national average among the other cities surveyed is over $18,000 per week. The average pimp in Atlanta makes $32,833 per week.
In most cases, street and internet pimps set daily quotas for their sex workers, requiring anywhere from $100 to $1000 per day.
You’ll see some of them say $700 but on the weekends I have to make $1,000 or $1,500 or something really crazy. But I think for the majority $1,000 a day, and you didn’t come home until you had it. What we witnessed … if they didn’t come back with it they were going to get beat. And they’ve seen the others get beat or they been beat themselves so they’re going to do whatever they can to make sure that they come home with $1,000.
The three-year study was funded by the U.S. Department of Justice. Law enforcement officials, pimps/sex traffickers, sex workers and prosecutors were interviewed to collect data.
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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