Washington Homeowner Associations and Condominiums Fighting Back Against Human Trafficking

On June 21st BEST presented at the Washington State Community Associations Institute’s (WSCAI) Chapter Luncheon.
June 24, 2016

On June 21st BEST presented at the Washington State Community Associations Institute’s (WSCAI) Chapter Luncheon. This presentation may mark the first time in the U.S. that an owner’s association has hosted an event to address the growing number of human trafficking incidents happening within condominiums and housing communities. BEST’s Executive Director, Mar Brettmann, and King County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney and BEST Advisory Board member, Valiant Richey, provided the keynote address.

For those who might have doubted the impact of human trafficking on a community, a partner in the law firm that hosted the luncheon shared his recent experience handling a human trafficking ring in one of his communities. This narrative alerted everyone about the prevalence of this issue is and how human trafficking can negatively impact any condominium, apartment, or housing community, regardless of socioeconomic status.

According to King County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Valiant Richey, as law enforcement cracks down on trafficking rings found in store fronts, such as massage parlors and hotels, the next logical move for pimps to conduct their illegal dealings will be private homes, condos, and apartments. “It’s already happening,” said Richey. “We are seeing more and more trafficking rings operated out of homes and high-rise condos, including some just down the street in Bellevue.”

In January, 12 brothels were closed and more than a dozen people arrested following an investigation by the Bellevue Police and King County Sheriff’s Office. The brothels were operated out of high-end apartment complexes in downtown Bellevue, where prostituted women from South Korea were forced to work often for 12 hours a day, seven days a week, to pay off debts, according to Bellevue Police. Read the full story here.

BEST Executive Director, Dr. Mar Brettmann congratulated WSCAI for being one of the first associations in the U.S. to take preemptive steps in combating human trafficking. Brettmann acknowledged that human trafficking cases involving reputable condominiums and housing communities is growing, but is encouraged by organizations such as WSCAI. “By simply being aware of this crime and knowing the indicators of human trafficking, property managers and owners can protect their properties and get help for those who are victimized.”

If you or your organization is interested in similar training for your employees or members to help prevent human trafficking, please contact Businesses Ending Slavery & Trafficking at info@bestalliance.org. ​