Birmingham, AL

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Birmingham is the second largest city in Alabama, with a population of approximately 200,000 residents. It is the largest city and county seat of Jefferson County, AL. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city, surrounding communities, and in other areas of the county. This activity, and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Some of the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market are child sex trafficking, prostituted women being targeted by serial killers, and male sex buyers being robbed and murdered.

Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. For example, in 2022, a month-long human trafficking-related operation in Birmingham illustrated the wide range of crime associated with the local sex trade.  The operation helped to recover seven missing children, identified and assisted multiple trafficking victims, and netted dozens of arrests leading up to The World Games. The sting produced the following results:

  • 34 arrests of commercial sex buyers.
  • Six arrests on human trafficking-related charges.
  • Eight arrests of adult males for online enticement of a minor and traveling to meet a minor for sex.
  • 15 (adult) sex trafficking victims identified and provided services.
  • Four (minor) victims of labor trafficking identified and provided services.
  • Two (minor) sex trafficking victims identified and provided services.
  • 11 (minor) victims of online sexual exploitation and sextortion identified.
  • Seven (adult) labor trafficking victims identified and provided services.
  • Seven missing and endangered minors were located, recovered and provided services.
  • Nine felony drug arrests.
  • One arrest of a fugitive from Michigan on felony charges of impersonating a police officer.
  • More than a dozen outstanding state and local arrest warrants served on people encountered, including one for attempted murder.
  • Nine firearms seized.
  • More than $30,000 in counterfeit goods seized.
  • More than 20 search warrants executed.

Birmingham police have conducted many prostitution sweeps throughout the years, capturing from a few to 130 men in reverse stings using undercover female police officers. The first known reverse sting in the city was conducted in 1987. Many of these operations have occurred in two areas of the city known to be frequented by prostituted women and male sex buyers. Web-based reverse stings using craigslist and have been conducted. In 2007, a campaign to disclose the identities of arrested sex buyers was conducted, in which pictures of convicted prostituted people and sex buyers were broadcast on a local access cable channel. The Birmingham Police Department also teamed with local nonprofits such as WellHouse, which provides programs and support for women involved in prostitution and human trafficking.

In April 2010, the Birmingham Police Department announced that eight suspects had been charged after a BPD Vice Unit reverse sting. The suspects were identified in local news articles.

In March 2012 the Birmingham Police Department conducted an undercover sting operation to crack down on prostitution in the Woodlawn area of north Birmingham. Narcotics officers went undercover to get prostituted people and sex buyers off the street. They focused on the area of 1st Avenue North between 41st Street and 80th Street. Over the three-day sting, police arrested 35 people. Charges included prostitution, solicitation, and a few suspects were picked up on felony charges. Police say they’ve received numerous complaints from citizens, and that they arrested more sex buyers than prostituted people.

In April 2012, a prostitution sting resulted in four arrests throughout the Birmingham area. The operation targeted prostituted people who were advertising their services on and Undercover officers arranged to meet them and made the arrests after they offered to engage in sex for money. Prostitution and solicitation are misdemeanors in state law. If convicted, someone can face up to one year in jail and pay a fine.

In 2014, Birmingham police arrested seven suspects on prostitution-related charges in a bust at the VIP Spa in Roebuck. Birmingham Vice and Narcotics officers served a search warrant at the VIP Spa Wednesday morning and found four women and three male customers inside. Birmingham police released the names and charges against the seven arrested.

In 2018, several reverse stings were conducted in northern Shelby County, along the U.S. 280 corridor, which crosses the county and leads directly into adjacent Jefferson County and the city of Birmingham.  These “Operation Close Out” reverse stings occurred in September and October of 2018, carried out by the Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force. In the first bust, 11 men were arrested, and the men’s identities were included in news releases. In the October 2018 operation, nine men were arrested and charged with soliciting prostitution. The suspects were from Birmingham, Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, Kentucky, and Tennessee. In June-July, 2022, 34 sex buyers were arrested in a month-long operation in Birmingham that involved a web-based reverse sting.

Key Partners

  • Birmingham Police Department
  • Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings (with Identity Disclosure after 2007):

Web-Based Reverse Stings:

Identity Disclosure:

Neighborhood Action:

  • “Car Tags Seen as Prostitute Solution”, Birmingham News, July 26 1995.

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Alabama
Type City
Population 210928
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