Aberdeen, WA

Tactics Used

Buyer Arrests
Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Aberdeen, a city in Washington state of approximately 17,000 residents, just about two hours southeast of Seattle, WA, located in Grays Harbor County, WA. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented problems in the city for over a century. Until the late 1950’s, the City of Aberdeen permitted brothels to operate and commercial sex activity to occur. This activity and its ancillary crimes have resulted in complaints to local law enforcement from residents and businesses. Among the more serious issues related to the area’s commercial sex market is child sex trafficking.

City police conduct periodic street-level reverse stings, driven in part by complaints from local residents and businesses. At least five such operations were conducted between 2010 and 2015, resulting in the arrest of 18 male sex buyers. The identities of the offenders were not made public. For example, in October 2015 three men were arrested in Aberdeen during a prostitution sting. Uniformed and plain clothed officers of the Aberdeen Police Department participated in an enforcement detail targeting persons involved in prostitution and the patronizing of prostituted people. During the 6 ½ hour period the officers worked on this detail, 5 individuals were arrested. Of the arrest offenders, two were prostituted women (both 43-year-old Aberdeen residents) and were arrested for prostitution and three were male sex buyers (ranging in age from 38-55) who were arrested for patronizing a prostitute. One of the females was also arrested for Violation of the Unified Controlled Substance Act (a felony). Proactive enforcement details such as this are commonly conducted by the Aberdeen Police Department in order to address concerns brought to our attention by business and community members. At times, Aberdeen police have collaborated with the Seattle Police Department and the Gray Harbor County Sheriff’s Office. For example, in 2020, the APD in coordination with the Gray Harbor County Drug Task Force conducted two street-level reverse sting operations over a period of two weeks, resulting in the arrest of 14 male sex buyers for soliciting prostitution and 2 prostituted women.

Sex buyers have also been arrested through alternative investigations and as the result of residential complaints to local law enforcement. For example, in 1959, the incumbent Aberdeen mayor executed a raid on of the largest brothel in the city, resulting in the arrest of 18 male sex buyers and five prostituted women. The operation was conducted as the result of citizen complaints to the City Council and the pervasive corruption between politicians, police officers, and brothel owners. According to reports, police officers and politicians were being bribed by brothel owners to remain in operation. The citizens’ committee signed an anti-prostitution petition that demanded the closing of the one of the largest brothels in Aberdeen. The petition was successful and the building was ordered to close for any and all activities for a period of at least six months.

Key Partners

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings:

Sex Buyer Arrests:

Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:

State Washington
Type City
Population 17013
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