Chelsea, MA

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

Chelsea is a densely populated city of about 40,000 residents, located across the Mystic River from Boston in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, near Everett and Revere. Commercial sex activity, conducted both at street level and within local businesses, has been reported in the community for at least two decades, and has generated complaints from city residents. Cases of sex trafficking, at times involving minors, have also been documented. For example, in August, 2019, nine individuals were charged with trafficking victims for sex at three residential locations in Chelsea, East Boston and Lynn that served as fronts for human trafficking.  The defendants were arrested by Massachusetts State Police, and were arraigned in Chelsea District Court on  charges including  Trafficking of Persons for Sexual Servitude, Deriving Support from Prostitution, Conspiracy to Commit Trafficking.  Sexually exploited persons have also been targeted in kidnapping attempts and homicides.

To reduce the size and scope of the city’s prostitution market, the Chelsea Police Department has incorporated tactics aimed at reducing demand for commercial sex. Since at least 1996, CPD officers have conducted reverse stings, sending female undercover officers to pose as prostituting persons in high-stroll areas. Such stings have at times been conducted in parallel with operations targeting individuals offering acts of prostitution. The CPD and city officials often post press releases summarizing anti-prostitution investigations (including arrest totals) to their official websites, but do not typically disclose the identities of offenders. Chelsea officials have also utilized police surveillance cameras– installed in designated “hot spots” in the community– to combat prostitution and other crimes since the 1980s.

Key Partners

  • Chelsea Police Department

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings:


Background on Local Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Massachusetts
Type City
Population 39878
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