Benton County is located in the south-central portion of Washington state. The county seat is Prosser, and its largest city is Kennewick. The Columbia River demarcates the county’s north, south, and east boundaries. The cities of Pasco, Richland, and Kennewick form the metropolitan area known as the Tri Cities (the former two cities are in Franklin County).
Prostitution and sex trafficking are well documented problems in the Tri-Cities area. For example, in 2010, the Benton County Court ordered a Richland mortgage banker linked to a prostitution ring to serve jail time after he admitted paying for sex with three girls, two of whom were under 18. A serial killer of prostituted women is known to have buried at least one victim in Richland. In mid-2013, three Kennewick teenagers were arrested for coercing a 15-year-old girl into prostitution. The teens pressured the girl to have sex with an adult male for $60. The teens gave the girl $10 of the money and kept the rest. They later tried to get her to sell sex again, and when the girl refused she was assaulted.
- Benton County Sheriff’s Office
- Richland Police Department
- Kennewick Police Department
- “Richland Police A-twitter About Prostitutes”, CBS/KEPR-TV 19, August 14 2009.
- “They met up to have sex, but instead wound up in cuffs.” Tri-City Herald, August 22, 2017.
Web-Based Reverse Sting and Shaming:
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
Background on Prostitution in the Area: