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Bluefield is a city of just under 10,000 residents, located along West Virginia’s southern border in Mercer County. Street prostitution has posed persistent and visible problems in the area for decades. The city has also documented cases of child sexual exploitation and the forced sex trafficking of a minor. In 2006, a Bluefield resident contacted a young woman online, and “convinced her to travel to Bluefield for the purpose of prostitution.” He later transported the girl to Miami where he “‘continued to direct her to engage in prostitution” until he was arrested by the FBI and the Miami Minor Vice Squad.
In an effort to reduce commercial sex activity in the area, the Bluefield Police Department has conducted at street-level reverse stings that target underlying demand for prostitution. The stings have used both civilian informants and undercover female officers as decoys. In their efforts, the BPD frequently collaborates with the Princeton Police Department to pool resources needed to conduct stings. Following their arrests, sex buyer names, ages, and hometowns are reported in local news sources
News reports suggest declines in prostitution due to these operations by police in Princeton and Bluefield, along with the members of the Southern Regional Drug & Violent Crime Task Force. However, police in Brushfork and Bluewell say their communities have experienced increases in prostitution, and believe that there may be displacement caused by Princeton and Bluefield successfully applying pressure to their commercial sex markets.
- Bluefield Police Department
- Princeton Police Department
National Assessment Survey and Interviews
Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 8 Arrests in Bluefield”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, August 25 2010.
- “Prostitution: Police Crackdown Welcome”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, August 29 2010.
- “Police, Task Force Arrest Nine for Solicitation”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, September 4 2010.
- “Prostitution Calls down in City; Activity up in County”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, October 16 2010.
- “Problem Solving, Police Efforts Help Curtail Prostitution”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, December 12 2010.
- “Local Police Begin Operations to Curb Prostitution in the Area”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, April 12 2012.
- “Nine Arrested for Prostitution in Bluefield,” CBS/WVNS-TV 59, March 11 2016.
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Florida Man Pleads Guilty to Sex Crimes against Local Minor”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, October 16 2007.
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Afternoon Update: Police Crack down on Bluefield Prostitution”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, June 4 2010.
- “Undercover Cops Arrest 3 in Prostitution Sting”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, June 5 2010.
- “Undercover Officer Solicited, Arrests Woman on Prostitution Charges”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, July 27 2010.
- “Prostitution Fueling Increase in STD Cases, Officials Say”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, August 1 2013.
- “Prostitution Still a Problem Despite Winter Weather”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, January 30 2014.
- https://www.bdtonline.com/opinion/kee-dam-city-taking-necessary-enforcement-steps (2022)