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Marshall granted restraining order in state’s first civil human-trafficking case

Jessica Ballard

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Attorney General Steve Marshall has been granted a temporary restraining order against a chain of North Alabama massage businesses. He said the businesses have actually been operating a human-trafficking enterprise.

This is the state’s first civil human-trafficking case under the new civil enforcement provision to Alabama’s human-trafficking law. The complaint also claims violations of Alabama’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

For now, TY Green’s Massage Therapy, Inc., which encompasses four businesses, is restrained from conducting business in Alabama. Two of the businesses, Health Massage and Massage Foot Care, operate out of Huntsville, and the other two operate out of Madison and Decatur under the name Massage Foot Care.

All assets have been frozen, and a receiver was appointed by the court to take control of the businesses until a preliminary injunction hearing can be held.

“Alabama’s new law provides a valuable tool to more effectively fight human traffickers and restore dignity and freedom to their victims,” Marshall said. “With this civil action, we were able to respond to the dire urgency of the situation, shut down the trafficking operation, rescue the victims and preserve assets that can be used to help those who have been harmed.”

Marshall told the court in his legal complaint that evidence collected during the investigation revealed the defendants were running illicit massage businesses that serve as fronts for a human-trafficking operation.

“In the defendants’ organization, the ‘employees’ work incredibly long hours during which at least some of them are expected to engage in sex acts with the businesses’ customers,” Marshall told the court. “When the victims are not ‘working,’ they seem to have little freedom of movement, they are transported in groups to and from the defendants’ businesses and are kept in houses owned by the defendants, where they are left to eat and sleep in terrible conditions. The defendants, on the other hand, have reaped millions of dollars in revenue from their businesses, and the attorney general now brings this action in order to put an end to their conduct and protect their victims from further harm.”

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Marshall said immediate civil court action was imperative in order to keep defendants from moving, hiding the victims or from getting rid of or transferring assets. The defendants’ business premises and homes were seized, and Marshall asked the court to permanently shut down the defendants’ human-trafficking network and grant the victims grant monetary damages as restitution.

Right now, information is not available about how many employees were involved.

Marshall thanked all of the agencies involved in the investigation of this case.

 

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