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'We need your help': Kentucky AG launches H.O.P.E. Initiative to end human trafficking

Officials say the goal is to encourage landlords and communities to shut down illicit massage businesses throughout the commonwealth.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Attorney General Daniel Cameron launched the H.O.P.E. Initiative to help stop human trafficking in Kentucky. 

Cameron's hope is to encourage landlords and communities to shut down illicit massage businesses throughout the commonwealth. Over the last four years, the attorney general said these businesses have grown by 71 percent. 

According to a news release, IMBs disguise themselves as licensed, reputable massage businesses, but instead of specializing in massage services, these businesses specialize in the "exploitation of vulnerable men and women." 

Last year, Cameron's task force started contacting landlords in Bullitt, Fayette, Hardin and Laurel counties about trafficking their properties. He says then more than half of the landlords have ended leases with those businesses. 

"We need your help. Every Kentucky and especially every landlord can help us fight human trafficking by recognizing the signs that a business may be engaged in human trafficking," TAPP Executive Director Heather Wagers said. 

Some of the common signs officials ask you to look for include: a business that typically has an all-male clientele; tinted or covered windows, so you can't see inside; or the doors are locked requiring someone to be buzzed in to get inside. 

“Sadly, the illicit massage industry is one of the fastest growing human trafficking industries in the country, and we hope this initiative will help change that," Wagers said. 

Kentuckians who suspect human trafficking is occurring in their community should report it immediately to local law enforcement. 

Landlords who have been contacted by the Office of the Attorney General regarding suspected human trafficking can contact TAPP by calling the H.O.P.E. Initiative Hotline at 1-833-991-HOPE (4673).

For more information about the H.O.P.E. Initiative, please click here.

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