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Human trafficking incident in Renton prompts proposed King County inquest

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King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn introduced legislation to help prevent human trafficking incidents at massage parlors, the council announced in a media release on Thursday.

The legislation would create a workgroup to make recommendations on how King County regulations could be updated to prevent instances of human trafficking such as last week’s raid of a Renton massage parlor.

Last week, a 39-year-old woman was arrested after she forced another woman to perform sexual services for clients

“This case highlights the fact that human trafficking often occurs in plain sight and goes undetected without intervention,” Dunn said. “So much about our understanding of the nature of human trafficking has evolved in recent years, so it could be very fruitful to take a look at King County’s decades-old regulations and look for ways that they can be used more effectively to prevent instances of trafficking.”

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A 2013 report on human trafficking responses performed by the King County Sheriff’s Office estimated that there were 84 massage parlors acting as hubs for human trafficking at that time and it is unknown how many are operating today.

The workgroup includes representatives from the King County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Local Services, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Public Health – Seattle & King County, cities of King County, and nonprofits working in the realm of human trafficking.

The workgroup would focus on evaluating responses and existing King County codes that relate to human trafficking.

This includes a comprehensive review of the permit status of businesses that might lend themselves to human trafficking, including unlicensed massage parlors.

Dunn’s legislation will be heard in the Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee in the coming weeks.