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Commission looks to strengthen human traffic laws

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BATON ROUGE - Two Port Allen massage parlors were busted last week and their workers were marched outside, arrested on charges of prostitution. Experts said it's a lucrative business found all over the world.

"Human trafficking is basically modern day slavery," said Emily Morrow-Chenevert. "There are more slaves in trafficking today than in 18th the century."

Lawmakers are trying to change that. The human trafficking commission met Tuesday, to put together a plan to bring to the entire legislature for next session in hopes of strengthening laws.

"Victim services are critical," said Kara French, founder of Eden House New Orleans. "The amount of trauma these girls recover from is incredible."

Workers in Port Allen were apparently living in the massage parlors, according to investigators. Experts said making tougher laws to protect victims is critical.

"By spelling out what forced labor looks like, it will allow DAs and police to understand," said Michelle Crawford Rickert, professor at LeTourneau University.

The other area they said needs improvement is enforcement on customers willing to pay for sexual favors.

"They know people are willing to purchase," said Morrow-Chenevert. "If they know then they will supply that."

State Police said they are now following leads in California stemming from the Port Allen massage parlor busts.


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