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Study: Underground Sex Industry Very Lucrative, Dangerous

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South Florida Crime

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The old saying that “pimpin’ ain’t easy,” doesn’t seem to apply to pimps in some of the nation’s largest cities. While they break the law, the pimps are also breaking the bank.

According to a new study from the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, a pimp in Miami will make approximately $17,741 per week. Based on that weekly income, a pimp in Miami could pull down $922,532 per year.

The richest city for pimps was Atlanta where average weekly cash income was $32,833, or roughly $1.7 million per year.

The study talked to pimp, sex traffickers, sex workers, child pornography offenders, along with local and federal law enforcement officers to come up with the numbers. The study looked at eight major cities: San Diego, Seattle, Dallas, Denver, Washington, D.C., Miami, Atlanta, and Kansas City.

Out of the eight cities examined, the underground sex economy was largest in Atlanta was roughly $290 million per year and smallest in Denver at roughly $40 million per year. The study pointed out that Atlanta’s sex economy in 2007 was 2.5 times the payroll of the 2013 Atlanta Falcons football team.

The underground sex industry has been trimmed in recent years, but is still far outpacing guns and drugs in crime that pays.

The study found that in Miami, the underground sex industry brought in roughly $235 million in 2007. For comparison, illegal gun sales brought in $118 million and drug sales brought in $95.7 million in the same year in South Florida.

The Urban Institute study also found that 66.7 percent of pimps took cash only, while 9.7 percent took credit cards, 4.2 percent took drugs as payment, and 2.8 percent would accept merchandise in exchange for sex.

Further, the study found that 49 percent of pimps reported using Internet ads to attract business through anything from social media to dating website and even custom web pages.

Pimps interviewed in the study said much of the recruitment of women into the sexual underground comes from social circles, clubs or bars, schools, and online and social media channels. In addition, one-third of the pimps interviewed said they got into the business because they grew up around it.

  • The Urban Institute offered several policy prescriptions to deal with the underground sex industry. Among the UI’s recommendations:
  • Teaching narcotics, gang, and vice investigators improved interviewing and evidence-collection could help identify psychological wounds better
  • Training prosecutors and judges on the evidentiary requirements needed to prove psychological coercion in court
  • Share intelligence across law enforcement units and departments, including across multiple jurisdictions
  • Graphic public campaigns showing the hard realities of sex work
  • New laws targeting the black market sex work advertised online
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