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Bel Air is a city of about 11,000 residents that serves as the county seat of Harford County, in northeast Maryland. Problems associated with commercial sex in the area are well-documented and 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 (i.e., child sex trafficking). Massage parlors have also been sites of substantial prostitution and sex trafficking in the county.
To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office and municipal police departments have conducted street-level reverse stings, some in response to community complaints. In September 2016, Harford County Sheriff’s deputies arrested six men and one woman in Bel Air, during an enforcement detail focusing on prostitution. Members of the Harford County Task Force, with assistance from deputies assigned to the Special Operations Division, Crime Suppression Unit, conducted an enforcement detail focusing on prostitution that occurred at local hotels. Suspects interested in an ad for commercial sex posted by detectives on “Backpage” made contact with a covert female deputy to arrange a meeting. When five of the individuals arrived at the arranged locations and offered money to the female deputy for sex, they were taken into custody. During the course of the detail, deputies patrolled areas of Harford County where complaints regarding prostitution have originated, and one woman was arrested and charged with prostitution. The identities of all those arrested were included in press releases.
- Harford County Sheriff’s Office
- Harford County Task Force
- Special Operations Division, Crime Suppression Unit
Web-Based Reverse Sting, 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/news/maryland/harford/prostitution-arrests (2018)