Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights is widely regarded as a hotbed of prostitution and human trafficking. And state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) wants to give law enforcement another tool to crack down on businesses acting as a front for the problem.
The lawmaker has introduced legislation mandating massage parlors to get a license from the New York Department of State that allows them to operate, a practice required for many businesses. According to Peralta, some — but not all, he emphasized — of the parlors are fronts for prostitution. One thing he pointed out about some of the businesses is that people on the street pass out cards for them late at night.
“The legitimate places are open from, like, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” the senator told the Chronicle. “These folks are open late at night. In particular over the weekend; one o’clock in the morning, they’re still operating.”
Many constituents weary of the massage parlors have complained about them to his office, Peralta added.
His bill would make massage parlors get four-year licenses from the state, which they would have to display, showing customers that they are complying with the regulation. The businesses would also have to get a bond or liability insurance.
Massage parlors operating without the license will not be taken lightly: The punishment could be paying $2,500 and spending six months behind bars.