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Aberdeen, a city of approximately 17,000 residents, is located in Harford County, in northeast Maryland. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city, surrounding communities, and in other areas of the county. This activity, and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market, is child sex trafficking. For example, in November 2013, three people were arrested after detectives made arrangements, via the internet, to meet with potential sex buyers at an Aberdeen motel room. One of the suspects was charged with human trafficking, in connection with allegedly driving a younger female to the motel for prostitution. In June 2020, a former Edgewood Middle School teacher was arrested and charged with solicitation of prostitution, sexual solicitation of a minor, and three counts of human trafficking. He was working at the middle school at the time, and allegedly took lewd photographs of the student, at his residence, then uploaded them to a fetish social media account. He also paid the victim to perform a sex act on him, which the student did not do.
Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. For example, at times the Aberdeen Police Department has conducted roughly three street-level reverse stings per year, some in response to community complaints. The first known reverse sting occurred in 2007, although prior operations may have been conducted but, not covered in news reports. Police often release the names of arrestees to the local media. For example, in February 2012 Aberdeen Police conducted a prostitution decoy sting that garnered two arrests, after which they posted the identities online. Again, in February 2020, the Aberdeen Police Department arrested 16 people in a prostitution operation, including 14 men for patronizing and solicitation, their identities were soon after disclosed. Both male and female undercover officers participated in the operation in downtown Aberdeen, with assistance from the Grays Harbor County Drug Task Force.
Web-based reverse stings have also been conducted. For example, in September 2016 a prostitution sting was conducted by the Harford County Sheriff’s Office. Police placed an ad on Backpage.com; suspects contacted an undercover female deputy to arrange a date, and when the buyers arrived and offered money to the female at the hotel, the men were arrested. Six men were charged with soliciting prostitution, while one woman was taken into custody for prostitution. The identities of the buyers were publicly released.
Surveillance cameras have also occasionally been used to help bolster evidence against arrested sex buyers.
- Aberdeen Police Department
- Harford County Sheriff’s Office
- Grays Harbor County Drug Task Force
National Assessment Survey
- “IN THE STATE: Harford County – $42 Million Suit Is Filed over Prostitution Arrests”, Baltimore Sun, May 4 1985.
- “Five Charged in Prostitution Sting”, NBC/WBAL-TV 11, February 5 2007.
- http://www.kxro.com/aberdeen-police-arrest-2-more-for-soliciting-a-prostitute/ (2012)
- https://www.kxro.com/16-arrests-made-in-aberdeen-connected-to-prostitution (2020)
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- “Aberdeen Seeks Laws to Fight Prostitution”, Baltimore Sun, January 23 1983.
- “Crime Cleanup Campaign Pays Off for Aberdeen”, Baltimore Sun, March 4 1984.
- “Three Charged in Internet Prostitution Sting in Aberdeen; One Facing a Count of Human Trafficking”, Baltimore Sun, November 25 2013.
- http://www.baltimoresun.com/aberdeen-havre-de-grace (2013)
- https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/jaron-anthonee-darden-edgewood-middle-school-charged (2020)
- https://www.marylandmatters.org/why-marylands-sex-trafficked-children-need-a-safe-harbor-law/ (2023)