Bowling Green, KY

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

Bowling Green is a city of roughly 74,000 residents in southwestern Kentucky, about midway between Nashville and Louisville.  Prostitution and human trafficking have been well-documented problems in the city for decades.  For example, in May, 1973, a woman announced that she had run a thriving brothel in the city for more than 40 years, dating back to the 1930s.  A 2013 sex trafficking case involving a minor led to an arrest in the city, although advocates from Catholic Charities believe underground prostitution and trafficking is not rare.  For example, in November 2013, police announced that after a three-week investigation, Kentucky State Police served an Edmondson County grand jury indictment warrant on an alleged trafficker. The charges included one count of human trafficking-victim under 18 years old, 10 counts of first-degree “unlawful transaction with a minor-illegal sex act,” 10 counts of possess/view matter portraying sexual performance by a minor (thus constituting child sexual abuse materials, or CSAM), 10 counts of first-degree sodomy, 10 counts of first-degree sexual abuse, 10 counts of incest, 10 counts of use of a minor under 16-years-old in a sex performance and distribution of matter “portraying sexual performance by a minor.” All the allegations involved the same child victim, and a conviction could receive a 70-year prison sentence.

In July, 2019, Bowling Green police arrested four people as the result of an investigation into prostitution occurring in two local massage parlors. According to an arrest citation, Bowling Green police received tips of suspicious behavior, and researched several local massage parlors online.  The phone numbers for the massage businesses had 39 ads on websites where commercial sex acts are advertised, and one was specifically named in some of the posts.  Detectives conducted surveillance at the businesses, noticing that the customers were all males, and search warrants were executed by BGPD detectives and investigators from the Attorney General’s office.  Officials found the employees did not have a massage license. One defendant was charged with promoting prostitution ( 2 or more prostitutes), 2nd degree wanton endangerment and practicing massage therapy without a license.  Others were arrested for engaging in organized crime, promoting prostitution, and practicing massage therapy without a license.  In August, 2021, local results from ‘Operation United Front’ (a sex trafficking sting conducted across 12 states) were announced, and included victim rescues and offender arrests taking place in Bowling Green. The overall operation in Kentucky rescued 21 victims (two of them minors) with 46 arrests made total. According to Kentucky State Police, there were five victims rescued in Bowling Green. The arrests in Bowling Green came after authorities executed a warrant on a massage parlor.

To combat consumer-level demand driving local prostitution and sex trafficking, many reverse stings have been conducted by Bowling Green police, and the identities of the men arrested were publicized. For example, in June 2014, police conducted a human trafficking enforcement operation at a hotel in Bowling Green, resulting in the arrest of eight sex buyers who were charged with soliciting prostitution, a misdemeanor of the third degree.

Not all arrests of sex buyers are the product of reverse stings; some result from investigations of offenses against real victims.  For example, in August, 2021, a man from Mississippi allegedly arranged to pay to abuse a victim for sex trafficking in Bowling Green. According to an arrest citation, the man had paid $200 to meet with the victim. He was arrested by undercover officers with help from a victim. Officers confiscated $3,000 cash, a semi-automatic handgun and three cell phones.

Key Partners

  • Bowling Green Police Department

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Arrest of Sex Buyers, Identity Disclosure:


Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation, Related CSAM in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Kentucky
Type City
Population 73529
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