SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Law enforcement officials are suing more than a dozen businesses in southwest Missouri suspected of being involved in human trafficking and prostitution under the guise of offering massages.
Attorney General Josh Hawley announced Thursday that his office and Greene County Prosecutor Daniel Patterson filed a lawsuit naming 16 businesses or individuals in Springfield.
Hawley says 18 businesses were raided in Springfield by law enforcement agencies and similar raids were being conducted in Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana.
The lawsuit says the businesses used mostly Asian immigrant females to provide sexual contact with customers. The Missouri State Highway Patrol conducted hundreds of hours of surveillance at dozens of massage parlors in Greene County before the raids.
The lawsuit seeks injunctions barring the defendants from further participation in prostitution and human trafficking.