Five women accept help after IMPD raids massage parlors suspected of human trafficking

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Five of the 12 women pulled out of six massage parlors suspected of human trafficking on Tuesday chose to accept help from victim advocates.

FOX59's Aishah Hasnie was embedded with undercover IMPD officers as they raided those businesses across Indianapolis and Greenwood. She witnessed a woman cry out "I go home!," when police walked into the Mountain Aire massage parlor on Rockville Road near Lynhurst. Police believe she and another woman who live and work at the business are human trafficking victims.

Those women were taken into police custody, but not arrested. While five accepted help and were taken to an out of state facility for recovery, the other seven refused and were released by police. They were quickly picked up by unidentified people.

“They’re scared. They’re sad. They don’t understand what’s happening,” explained Tracy McDaniel.

McDaniel founded Restored, a group that helps sex trafficking victims, and she was with police as they interviewed the women.

"They fear for their lives. They fear that they’re gonna be deported,” said McDaniel.

McDaniel said some victims of human trafficking chose to stay because of what she calls the "trauma bond." It's a bond so strong that even if a woman is living in a tiny room in a massage parlor with few belongings, she could find the idea of freedom terrifying.

“They’re given a set of rules. They’re given a manual. They’re told what they can say, what not to say. Especially in massage parlors, it’s very organized," McDaniel explained. “They may be scared for their family’s life. They could’ve been threatened that their family will be threatened.”

Advocates like McDaniels are used to trafficking victims saying "no" to help when offered, so getting five women to accept it within hours of being discovered was a huge win for her and local agencies.

“IMPD did an amazing job, you know, Homeland Security did an amazing job. Everybody genuinely cared about everything that was going on. And because of that, at the end of the day, you know we had five individuals who chose to leave.”

Police are still investigating the six businesses raided on Tuesday. Officers also served search warrants at two private residences in Speedway in connection with this investigation. No one has been arrested or charged.