Charles County, MD

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

Charles County is part of the Washington metropolitan area, located in the Southern Maryland region. Its population is approximately 169,000, and the city of La Plata serves as the county’s government seat. Prostitution activity has been well-documented throughout the county for  years. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. For example, in April 2018, a woman was arrested on prostitution charges at a La Plata hotel after assaulting a man she had sex with in exchange for a place to stay; she resisted arrest and assaulted officers as well when they tried to take her in. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is child 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. Though we know of no proactive sting operations targeting sex buyers that have been conducted in the county using decoys, sex buyers have been arrested through investigations involving crimes against real victims. For example, the Maryland Department of State Police reported that in September 2013 they were notified by Virginia State Police about a missing juvenile who had been located at a motel in La Plata. Troopers found the minor and discovered she had been forced to perform sexual acts in exchange for crack cocaine. Nearby, troopers located the suspect, who had crack cocaine in his possession, and arrested him. The man had two outstanding warrants, one in Maryland and one in Texas. Maryland State Police (MSP) Criminal Enforcement Division investigators charged him with human trafficking, second degree rape, and second degree assault.

In June 2021, the Charles County Sheriff’s Office collaborated on an operation leading to the arrest of a La Plata man at his home following a tip from New York State Police that said the man had tried to get a child to send him naked photos of themselves, and later tried to solicit sexual acts. The man was charged with six counts of possession of “child pornography” (i.e., CSAM), six counts of production of child pornography, one count of displaying obscene matter to a minor, one count of sexual solicitation of a minor, and one count of tampering with physical evidence. His identity was released to local news sources.

In November, 2022, a Charles County Sheriff’s Officer was indicted on charges of felony second-degree rape and two misdemeanors for misconduct in office and soliciting prostitution.  He had been relieved of his duties with the Sheriff’s Office in January, 2021 after the agency was made aware of the allegations that took place in September and December 2021. The Charles County Sheriff’s Office’s Office of Professional Responsibility conducted an administrative investigation while the Criminal Investigations Division worked with the Charles County State’s Attorney’s Office to investigate for any criminal wrongdoing. The man had been suspended without pay for the duration of the investigation and taken into custody on a bench warrant, one week after the indictment was issued. The man was soon released from the Charles County Detention Center on electronic monitoring.

Key Partners

  • Charles County Sheriff’s Office
    • Office of Professional Responsibility
    • Criminal Investigations Division
  • Charles County State’s Attorney’s Office
  • La Plata Police Department
State Maryland
Type County
Population 168698
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