King County renews focus on combatting sex trafficking

A Renton spa worker is suspected of holding a woman against her will and forcing her into sex work. She faces two crimes.

RENTON, Wash. — A new effort aims to stop human trafficking in King County.

The law was recently proposed after a Renton Spa worker was arrested and accused of holding a woman against her will and forcing her into sex work.

Quyen Nguyen pleaded not guilty to two counts of attempted first-degree prostitution and unlawful detention on Thursday morning.

This case prompted a district councilor to take action.

“[It’s] It is shocking that modern day sexual slavery exists in the Puget Sound area,” said King County Councilman Reagan Dunn.

Dunn urged local leaders to take a broad look at massage parlor businesses. The King County Code that governs them has not been reviewed since the 1980s.

Dunn’s legislation would bring law enforcement and nonprofits together to make recommendations.

“We have a Code Enforcement Division, they can red flag these buildings, we can shut them down, we can prosecute if there are any violations of the law,” Dunn said.

Dunn said a 2013 King County report estimated that there were 84 massage parlors in the area involved in human trafficking at the time.

“We want to prevent companies from engaging in any type or form of human trafficking or sexual slavery,” Dunn said.

Massage parlors are one of the main sites for human trafficking, and many women who are trafficked are immigrants, who are often misled about what type of work they will do, according to the Polaris Project.

The victim in this case emigrated to the United States and, according to the indictment, took a job at the spa in Renton. At the time she said she was forced to pose for photos used in advertisements for prostitution. According to the indictment, the victim said her life would be threatened if she did not cooperate.

Renton Police said they were able to run away and call 911.

KING 5 went to the store to see if anyone wanted to say anything, but no one answered after knocking on the front door.

“These are some of the most serious cases we have,” said Casey McNerthney of the King County Attorney’s Office.

McNerthney said he knew it was hard for survivors to come forward, but it could be crucial when it comes to a conviction.

“We want survivors to know we’re hearing them, and we want the public to know that we take these cases very, very seriously,” McNerthney said

A final vote on Dunn’s proposed legislation is expected next month. Dunn believes the legislation will have bipartisan support. If it’s possible

As for Dunn’s proposed legislation, it’s expected that there will be a final vote in about a month. Dunn believes it will have bipartisan support. If passed, the task force has 90 days to make recommendations.

https://www.king5.com/article/news/local/renton-massage-parlor-human-trafficking/281-fccb4683-2464-41ee-b8b7-2b53d9d6ae6e King County renews focus on combatting sex trafficking

Alley Einstein

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