Burke County, 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

Burke County, North Carolina has population of approximately 88,000, and is part of the Hickory–Lenoir–Morganton, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area. Its county seat is the city of Morganton. Prostitution activity has been well-documented within the county, and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. For example, in June, 2014, seven women were arrested for prostitution during a sting that was conducted in response to community complaints.  In May, 2015, three women were arrested on misdemeanor prostitution charges following another undercover operation in Burke County. Investigators with the Burke County Sheriff’s Office conducted the undercover operation using an internet website where they made contact with the women who had made posts on the site. The posts included the women’s contact information and some photos. During the operation, deputies said the women went to a predetermined meeting place where they offered to perform “sexual acts” in exchange for money. The solicitations were captured on hidden video. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking.

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. Demand reduction tactics used in the town include the arrest of sex buyers, the public disclosure of their identities, and employment loss. For example, in October, 2012, a Burke County sheriff’s deputy was charged with exchanging a schedule III controlled substance for sex. The man was arrested by agents with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) while trying to exchange prescription medication for sex acts. He was charged with intent to sell and deliver a schedule III controlled substance. The Burke County Sheriff said that they first began looking into the case weeks before and then handed it over to SBI for further investigation. The man’s position with the Burke County Sheriff’s Office was terminated as the result of the investigation findings.

Key Partners

  • Burke County Sheriff’s Office
  • North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation
State North Carolina
Type County
Population 87611
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