Chester is a city of approximately 34,000 residents, situated roughly equidistant between Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware in southeast Pennsylvania. Prostitution has posed considerable problems in the community for several years.
For example, at least two cases of child sex trafficking has been documented in Chester. In one instance, in May 2013, two city residents were charged with recruiting and pimping young women (at least one of whom was under the age of 18) in nearby Philadelphia using online advertisements. In a federal indictment, the traffickers were alleged to have “engaged in acts of physical violence and threats of physical harm to maintain the participation of females in their prostitution business. They [were] charged with sex trafficking of a minor and sex trafficking by force.”
To reduce commercial sex activity, the Chester Police Department has conducted reverse stings since at least 1994. Stings are conducted at street level, using a female undercover officer as a decoy. The operations have at times been large in scale, netting as many as 38 johns in a single investigation. To deter other would-be sex buyers, arrestees’ names and other identifying information are also released to the public.
- Chester Police Department
- Street-Level Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- “Busted Chester Hits Prostitution”, Delaware County Daily Times, December 2 1994.
- “‘Operation Night Life’ Tally Totals 38 Arrests; Undercover Operation Targets Chester Prostitution”, Delaware County Daily Times, December 4 1994.
- “The Customers Are Guilty, Too; Editorial”, Delaware County Daily Times, December 6 1994.
- “9 More Busted for Vice”, Delaware County Daily Times, December 23 1994.
- “Nine Busted in Decoy Hooker Sting”, Delaware County Daily Times, July 10 1997.
- “Undercover Sting Nets Six Arrests”, Delaware County Daily Times, August 8 2006.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets Eight Arrests in Chester”, Delaware County Daily Times, September 1 2008.
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Indictment Charges Individuals with Sex Trafficking Females”, Press Release, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, May 1 2013.
- “Unexpected Guilty Plea in Sex Trafficking Case”, CBS/KYW-TV 3, July 27 2014.
- “Judge Sends Chester Woman to Prison for 15 Years for Sex Trafficking Females”, Press Release, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, October 22 2014.
- “Teen Prostitute: ‘I Felt Like a Slave,'” Philadelphia Inquirer, February 12 2016.
- “West Oak Lane Man Convicted of Rape and Sex Trafficking a Minor,” Philadelphia Inquirer, February 17 2016.
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Crime Panel Looks at Chester’s Troubles”, Philadelphia Daily News, December 18 1988.
- “In Chester, Sex for Cocaine Brings Disease and Despair”, Philadelphia Daily News, August 10 1989.