COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Some Colorado Springs council members tell 13 Investigates they're preparing for a potential shut down of the city's dozens of illicit spas with ties to human trafficking. This comes as a statewide grand jury indicts three Jefferson County massage parlor operators in a human trafficking and money laundering scheme.
Nearly one year ago, the Colorado Springs Police department gave a presentation to the city council, highlighting just how prevalent illicit spas were in the Pikes Peak area. At that time, the department indicated there were at least 35 illegal parlors that police are aware of within the city.
During a work season on April 12, Commander Scott Whittington with the Metro Vice division told the city council, "We believe human trafficking is occurring in these businesses, absolutely.”
According to the new ordinance, it will be unlawful for a massage parlor to operate within the city of Colorado Springs without a valid massage business license for each premise starting Sep. 1, 2022. Massage licenses must be renewed yearly and the annual fee is currently set at $110.
Under this new ordinance, the Colorado Springs Police Department and the City Clerk's Office would be allowed to inspect the premises and records at any reasonable time during the hours of operation or apparent activity.
Additionally, massage businesses would not be permitted to operate between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Individuals are prohibited from living inside of the businesses as well.
Managers of Colorado Springs massage parlors would not be allowed to employ individuals who do not possess both a valid government-issued, photographic identity card, and a massage therapist license.
When it comes to sexual activities, the ordinance says it is unlawful for any massage therapist to "engage in specified sexual activities or to expose the massage therapist’s specified anatomical areas within the premises." Also, it would be considered unlawful to advertise sexual activities, prostitution, escort services, or other sexual services.
An applicant or license holder can be denied or have their license revoked/suspended if they have a prior criminal history or if they have had a license revoked/suspended in another jurisdiction.
The ordinance would not apply to the following businesses:
- Public and private schools
- Government entities
- Training rooms of a recognized professional or amateur sports organizations
- Health care professionals licensed or registered with any state to provide massage services to the public
- Beauty salons
- A spa or resort operated on the premises of a hotel with at least one hundred (100) rooms for overnight guests
Beginning in 2019, 13 Investigates has presented overwhelming evidence showing that dozens of parlors were offering sex acts in Colorado Springs. Since then, 13 Investigates has helped business owners take action against these parlors in their shopping centers.
Friday, the Colorado Attorney General announced three people were indicted on 19 counts in a "complex human trafficking, pimping, and money laundering enterprise" involving massage parlors in Denver and Lakewood.
The city of Aurora passed its ordinance in 2018.
To report or seek help, Colorado's Human Trafficking Hotline is a 24/7 hotline. People can also text the Colorado Human Trafficking Hotline between noon and midnight mountain time 720-999-9724.