Bridgeport, CT

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Shaming
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Letters
Cameras
Web stings
License suspension

Bridgeport is a city of approximately 144,000 residents, located an hour’s drive north of New York near Fairfield in Fairfield County, Connecticut. It is the largest city in the state, with a robust and well-documented commercial sex market. Media reports of street and in-house prostitution in the city date back to the 1880s. Local law enforcement and federal agents also identified one of the earliest documented cases of U.S. domestic minor sex trafficking, in 1965.  The persistent presence of sex trafficking is seen, for example, in arrests made in a case in November 2013.  Federal authorities and local police arrested three men after breaking up a sex trafficking operation in the Hollow neighborhood of Bridgeport.  In a year-long investigation police learned the group was part of a larger, multi-state ring that trafficked women, and investigators said the ring is believed to have ties to organized crime in Mexico.  Similar cases involving child sex trafficking victims were documented between 2007 and 2009.

To combat consumer-level demand, the Bridgeport Police Department has conducted periodic street-level reverse stings since at least 1993, in response to community complaints about prostitution.  Arrested sex buyers may have their names, ages, and hometowns reported in the media.  In 1993, city officials established an ordinance enabling police to seize the vehicles of those arrested for solicitation. While the practice has not been routinely enforced in the years since, one BPD captain noted that “the fact that the possibility exists that someone can lose their car can be a deterrent.”

In recent years, the city has also taken steps to tighten regulations on sex-oriented businesses. In spring 2012, Bridgeport residents filed a petition demanding greater restrictions on and increased surveillance of the city’s many massage parlors and strip clubs. In December 2012, the city shut down 10 massage parlors after reports of illegal activity.

Key Partners

  • Bridgeport Police Department
  • U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • FBI

Key Sources

Reverse Stings:

Auto Seizure:

Neighborhood Action:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Connecticut
Type City
Population 136695
Location
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