A California law requires certain businesses, including motels, truck stops and massage parlors, to display posters about human trafficking. But on a recent compliance check in Salinas, police found out very few are following this law.
Salinas Police Officer Francisco Maldonado’s assignment this afternoon is to check whether massage businesses are following Senate Bill 1193. Massage parlors are one of about a dozen businesses required to display posters about human trafficking.
“We're going to walk into those businesses and make sure that they have the human trafficking posters posted somewhere that can be seen by the public, or also by the employees,” Maldonado said.
He walks up to the first massage parlor carrying a stack of the locally-made, black and yellow posters. They explain what human trafficking is and how to get help in three languages: English, Spanish and Tagalog. The national hotline for reporting human trafficking is in large font.
In this first parlor, the poster wasn’t up.
“We left him the citation and we'll forward that on to the District Attorney's office, so they have documentation that they were served and given a notice and left a poster,” Maldonado said.
Of the 25 massage parlors Salinas Police officers checked on this day, only one business had the poster up. It happened to be one Maldonado visited, Happy Feet on Main Street.
“Sounds like she was very much aware of why we were there. So that's good,” he said.
This compliance check marked the third one over the past year and a half. Officers also checked whether businesses were following the law in South Monterey County and on the Monterey Peninsula.
Monterey County District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni says businesses have 30 days from these compliance checks to display a poster. Otherwise, they face a $500 fine.
Pacioni says the posters help get the word out that human trafficking happens here.
“Another reason we're pushing these posters is because we want traffickers to know that we're looking for them and we want to get the public aware of this, as well, so that they can call the number if they see something that's not right,” Pacioni says.
The Monterey County District Attorney’s office currently has two human trafficking cases that are about to go to trial. The cases involve six alleged human traffickers.