Auburn, WA

Tactics Used

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

Auburn is a city of about 50,000 residents in the greater Seattle/Tacoma metropolitan area.  Problems associated with prostitution and sex trafficking in the city include the activity of Gary Ridgeway, a serial killer who targeted over 60 prostituted women in the region and who lived in Auburn. There have also been cases of child sex trafficking, and local street and inter-net based commercial sex that generates complaints to police.  Reverse stings have occurred in the city, dating back at least to 2011.  In that street-level operation, three men were arrested, and their identities were disclosed to the media.

In 2015, the south King County cities of Kent, Auburn, Renton, SeaTac, and Tukwila launched a program of arrests and prosecutions intended to get tougher on those who hire prostituted persons. The new “buyer beware” approach to prostitution arrests has resulted in arrests of sex buyers in other cities in the county, including  Kent, which has made three arrests of “buyers” of sexual services for every arrest of a prostituted person. A Kent Municipal Court judge went on the record in a Seattle Times interview and expressed her belief that cases like these should no longer be eligible for “diversion” and that those who are convicted should be sentenced to attend a 10-week intervention program (the OPS program for sex buyers, held in Seattle) as a condition of their sentences. In May 2018, police arrested four men in one hour on the 2300 block of Auburn Way North, each charged with patronizing a prostitute.  In June, 2019, Auburn police arrested at least nine men for prostitution related offenses during a reverse sting operation. According to filed reports, the arrests took place throughout the day and occurred primarily at or around a casino.


Key Partners

  • Auburn Police Department
State Washington
Type City
Population 49808
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