One avenue in New York City is reportedly overrun by brothels doing business in broad daylight, frustrating residents who say the aggressive prostitutes loiter outside, and sometimes even proposition children.
Nearly a dozen brothels now operate on one street in the Corona neighborhood of Queens, luring in clients on Roosevelt Avenue near Junction Boulevard, the New York Post reported.
The operations are not confined to night life on the weekends, either.
One “sex worker” offered a “happy ending” massage for $40 and another offered “full-body massages” for $80, the Post reported.
Drunk men looking for sex from prostitutes also hang around the area, according to residents.
The open illegal sex trade has caused consternation for moms in the neighborhood, who say the prostitutes recruit local children to hand out their X-rated business cards, some of which include photos of scantily clad women.
A group of about 20 moms has formed the Community of Young Values and Principles in Corona to combat the sex trade’s targeting of their children.
“The police do nothing — nothing!” said one woman who works at a cell phone store on the avenue. “Drugs, prostitution, alcohol — it’s terrible.”
“I have younger kids,” said a local mom of six. “One is 14, one is 8, and one is 5. And these girls, they try to pull them in and sell them their services. Even the kids! They’re really forceful about it.”
Meanwhile, the NYPD has backed off arresting prostitutes in recent years, instead cracking down on “johns,” or those who buy sex.
In 2020, only 96 prostitutes were arrested in New York City, a dramatic drop from the 1,790 who were arrested in 2014, and a world away from the nearly 20,000 prostitution arrests New York made in 1985.
Some advocates worry that Central American and Asian women are particularly at risk for sex trafficking.
“There are trafficking cartels from Mexico and Central America who ship women into Queens and parts of Brooklyn,” said Taina Bien-Aime, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.
Some of the brothels even advertise on YouTube in Spanish with videos showing the women soliciting men on the sidewalk of Roosevelt Avenue and naming their price for sexual services.
One video on the channel Comunidad Latina En Usa, which has more than 20,000 YouTube subscribers, called the avenue the “Market of Sweethearts.”
“How much, for example, does it cost for a happy ending?” two men ask one of the women.
“Two hundred dollars,” the woman says.
The Queens district attorney managed to shut down at least six alleged brothels since June through nuisance laws, the Post reported, which means they can be hit with large fines and closed for a year.
However, residents say many brothels are still operating in the borough and that the police bother street vendors selling food more than the prostitutes openly selling sex.
“The NYPD has proactively shifted the work of vice enforcement in recent years, reflecting our ongoing efforts to focus with precision on those who would purchase sex or promote its sale,” the NYPD said in a statement.
“We have significantly reduced the number of arrests for prostitution itself as we work in every case to connect the victims of human trafficking with the services they need,” the police department said. “We have also worked to proactively deter individual buyers of sex. Yet prostitution in all forms remains prohibited by law.”
New York is also struggling with a rise in homelessness and some forms of violent crime, including car thefts and felony assault. There have been over 1,300 more car thefts so far this year than by this time last year, and about 800 more felony assaults. Murder, rape, and robbery are down this year, however.