Bend is a city of approximately 91,000 residents, located in central Oregon. It is the government seat and principle population center of Deschutes County, and is situated on the eastern edge of the Cascade mountain range, along the Deschutes River. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city and surrounding unincorporated areas of the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious problems associated with commercial sex in the area include child sex trafficking.
For example, in May 2009 Bend Police detectives arrested six women and three men on suspicion of prostitution, as part of a sting operation in which detectives contacted the women through Web sites. Most of the women, who ranged in age from 18 to 49, were from Bend and Redmond, and in some cases, the men were acting as their “pimps.” The sting took place in southwest Bend.Charges included conspiracy to commit prostitution, prostitution, outstanding arrest warrants, compelling prostitution, promoting prostitution, and first-degree possession of child pornography. Detectives conducted the sting operation because of “a marked increase in online postings for sexual services from prostitutes in the Bend area,” according to the Bend Police Department release. The news release referred to “numerous Web sites” where female prostitutes were contacted during the investigation, but the police did not specify which sites. Through the present, detectives from the Bend Police Department routinely monitor websites which are believed to allow individuals to post solicitations for prostitution.
To combat prostitution and sex trafficking in the area, local law enforcement agencies have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex, which provides the revenue stream driving all commercial sex and trafficking. As early as 1992, local ordinances provided for the seizure of vehicles used in the commission of prostitution. To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, the Bend Police Department has conducted investigations and stings that have resulted in the arrest of sex buyers. For example, in March, 2012, detectives from the Bend Police Department opened an investigation into an internet listing offering escort services in Bend, at a local motel. Detectives were able to trace two suspects to the hotel where they were conducting prostitution, and conducted surveillance. Due to the on-going nature of this investigation the location of the hotel is being withheld. Detectives observed and then investigated three men who entered and left the hotel, and later arrested all three for buying sex.
In August, 2016 four people were arrested or cited in a sting operation targeting prostitution at several Bend hotels, with police saying one 19-year-old woman had been a victim of sex trafficking since she was 13. Bend police, assisted by Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies, Redmond and Sunriver police and Oregon State Police, conducted the “proactive operation targeting human trafficking” between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at various unidentified hotels. The goal of the operation was to locate individuals who were actively promoting prostitution, human trafficking and child sex trafficking. One of the arrested was for a man who was cited and released on a charge of soliciting prostitution. Police said a similar operation was conducted a few years previously, though it was not similarly publicized.
- Bend Police Department
- Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office
- Redmond Police Department
- Sunriver Police Department
- Oregon State Police
Reverse Stings, Shaming, Vehicle Seizure:
- https://www.nytimes.com/1992/12/04/nyregion/price-of-a-prostitute-the-client-s-car.html (1992)
- https://www.bendoregon.gov/Home/Components/News/News/344/29?recordid=975&arch=1&cftype=News (2012)
- http://www.ktvz.com/news/bend/bend-prostitution-sting-shines-spotlight-on-sex-trafficking/88381919 (2016)
- http://www.ktvz.com/news/bend/three-charged-in-prostitution-raid-at-ne-bend-motel/88389280 (2016)
- http://www.mycentraloregon.com/2016/08/31/arrests-in-prostitution-sting-at-bend-motel/ (2016)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking: