Boone, NC

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

Boone is a town of approximately 18,000 residents, located in Watauga County in the Blue Hill Mountains of western North Carolina. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been documented as local problems for decades. In a relatively recent example, in 2019 an owner of a massage parlor was arrested after Boone County Sheriff’s Office deputies began an investigation prompted by receiving a complaint about the possibility of prostitution taking place at the business. The town also has had several convictions of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) production and distribution in recent years.

To the wide range of crimes associated with prostitution and sex trafficking, the Boone Police Department has taken a proactive approach to reducing underlying demand for commercial sex by conducting reverse stings. For example, in June 2014, BPD officers, with the assistance of the Lenoir Police Department and North Carolina Bureau of Criminal Investigation, conducted a web-based reverse sting. According to news reports, officers “utilized online advertisements” offering prostitution services to identify and arrest four sex buyers. The men were arrested after meeting with and agreeing to pay an undercover officer for sex. All arrestees’ names, ages, hometowns, and mugshots were publicized in local media outlets.

In July 2015, five men were arrested during another prostitution sting targeting the commercial sex trade in local hotels. Police reportedly used online advertisements offering prostitution services. Five men responded to those ads and reportedly to pay an undercover officer in exchange for sexual services. The men were each held under $750 secured bonds pended an appearance in Watauga County District Court.

In September 2015, a 28-year-old man was charged after driving cross country from Selma, Oregon, to Boone, North Carolina, in an attempt to meet a 14-year-old girl for sex. As this was in response to a web-based reverse-sting, the man was immediately arrested upon arrival. He was charged with felony attempted first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, felony soliciting of a child by computer and felony dissemination of obscenity.

In May 2022, the Souther Baptist Convention released a list of known sex abusers. A Baptist pastor from Boone was listed, who had pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a 15-year-old student. He was sentenced to 2 years in prison.

Key Partners

  • Boone Police Department
  • Lenoir Police Department
  • North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation
State North Carolina
Type City
Population 18036
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