Aberdeen, a city of approximately 15,000 residents, is located in Harford County in northeast Maryland. Problems associated with commercial sex in the area include child sex trafficking. For example, in November 2013 three people were arrested after detectives made arrangements through an Internet site to meet the suspects at an Aberdeen motel room. One of suspects was charged with human trafficking in connection with her having allegedly driven 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 photographed a body part of a student at his residence, then uploaded it to a fetish social media account. He also paid the victim to complete a sex act on him, which the student did not complete.
To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, the Aberdeen Police Department conducts 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 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. In February 2020, the Aberdeen Police Department arrested 16 people in a prostitution operation, including 14 men for patronizing and solicitation. 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 detail 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 they 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 prostituting. The detail took place at hotels in Aberdeen and Edgewood where the suspects had arranged to meet a woman who later turned out to be an undercover deputy. The identities of the buyers were publicly released.
Surveillance cameras have 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, Shaming:
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/harford/aberdeen-havre-de-grace (2013)
- https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2020/jaron-anthonee-darden-edgewood-middle-school-charged (2020)