U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Crime in Public Space and Online Domains: Commercial Sex and Sex Trafficking in Massage Businesses

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $32,000)

The goal of this project is to identify investigative practices for commercial sex trafficking. The study proposes to analyze online and administrative data on approximately 3,000 massage businesses to be linked to information about the users who frequent the establishments, and the social and physical context where the establishments are located. Indicators of sex trafficking, drawn from human trafficking investigations and qualitative interviews with practitioners, will be used to determine which types of commercial sex operations are likely to engage in sex trafficking. The study focuses on Massachusetts, Texas, and Washington¯ three states where criminal justice agencies are taking proactive steps to identify and disrupt illicit massage businesses. The core analytical strategies include: 1) automated text analyses to identify commercial sex and sex trafficking in client-based web reviews and forum posts; 2) multi-level modeling to understand the contextual predictors of commercial sex and sex trafficking; and 3) network analysis to identify how online clientele networks drive these problems. CA/NCF

"Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law," and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14).

Date Created: September 27, 2018