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Chesterfield County is a county of approximately 371,000 residents, located in the southern suburbs of Richmond, Virginia. Its county seat is the city of Chesterfield. Sex trafficking and prostitution have been well documented problems in the county for decades. In this county, sex buyers have been the main targets of prostitution stings. Operations such as reverse stings, web-based reverse stings, and the public disclosure of sex buyer identities have been common ways law enforcement agencies have attempted to battle prostitution and sex trafficking. These efforts have been ongoing since at least 2001 and operations may occur several times per year. From 2001 to 2009, 243 men were arrested in Chesterfield County during reverse stings. In April 2015, five men were arrested in connection to an undercover operation targeting solicitation for prostitution in Chesterfield County. A reverse sting was conducted at a motel in the 8800 block of Jefferson Davis Highway. As a result of the investigation, five sex buyers were charged with solicitation of a prostitute and use of vehicle to promote prostitution. The identities of the men were included in news releases.
While average sentences for these types of offenses in Chesterfield County are 30-day suspended jail sentences accompanied by $100 fines, punishments can be more serious, such as a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. HIV testing and counseling about HIV transmission is required by state law if sex buyers are convicted. Another common and, from the point of view of the buyers, more severe penalty utilized in Chesterfield County is identity disclosure, where the names, ages, and addresses of the men are published in community newspapers.
Sex buyers may be charged with felony prostitution charges if they solicit minors. For example, in March 2021, 20 men were arrested during a two-day operation for “soliciting sex from minors” online and through social media platforms. Chesterfield County Police Special Victims Detectives communicated with suspects undercover and arranged to meet with people to complete the purchase of access to sexually abuse minors. Once the suspects came to the location and continued to express interest in buying sex to decoy officers, they were arrested. The identities, including photos, of all 20 sex buyers were included in news releases. Among the charges faced by the arrested men were felony solicitation of prostitution, use of a vehicle to promote prostitution, carrying a concealed weapon, firearm violation after involuntary commitment, distribution of certain drugs to persons under 18, and obstruction of justice. In May, 2022 a similar operation resulted in the arrest of 16 men for attempting to buy access to sexually abuse a minor.
In March, 2023, nine people were arrested during an “online sex chat” sting operation carried out by detectives with Chesterfield County’s Special Victims and Vice and Narcotics unit. The suspects are accused of soliciting who they believed to be minors for sexual abuse via social media. When the suspects arrived at the designated meeting location, they were arrested. Each suspect faces a charge of attempted solicitation of prostitution with a minor, except for one, who was instead charged with attempting to solicit prostitution. All of the men had their identities publicly disclosed.
- Chesterfield County Police Department
- Henrico County Police Department
- U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Street-Level Reverse Stings; Identity Disclosure:
- “Undercover Operation Results in Arrests of 33 Men”, Press Release, Chesterfield County Police Department, May 25 2004.
- “Undercover Operation Results in Arrests of 22 Men”, Press Release, Chesterfield County Police Department, August 29 2005.
- “Undercover Prostitution Sting Nets 33”, Chesterfield Observer, July 19 2006.
- “Chesterfield Police Arrest 36 Men on Prostitution Charges”, Chesterfield Observer, June 6 2007.
- “News Briefs: Twenty Arrested in Prostitution Sting on Jeff Davis Hwy.”, Chesterfield Observer, September 19 2007.
- “Two Dozen Men Arrested During Prostitution Bust”, Chesterfield Observer, June 18 2008.
- “More Prostitution Arrests”, Chesterfield Observer, August 13 2008.
- “Stemming the Prostitution Tide”, Chesterfield Observer, June 3 2009.
- “Undercover Prostitution Operation Nets 14”, Chesterfield Observer, June 17 2009.
- “Twenty Men Arrested on Prostitution Charges”, Chesterfield Observer, June 2 2010.
- “More Prostitution Arrests”, Chesterfield Observer, September 15 2010.
- “Sting Yields Multiple Prostitution Arrests”, Chesterfield Observer, December 1 2010.
- “Nearly 60 People Arrested on Prostitution Charges”, Chesterfield Observer, January 25 2012.
- https://www.wric.com/news/five-men-arrested-in-chesterfield-prostitution-sting/ (2015)
Web-Based Reverse Stings; Identity Disclosure:
- “Undercover Online Operation Results in Arrests of 15 People”, Press Release, Chesterfield County Police Department, August 13 2007.
- “‘What I Did Was Awful, Wrong and Disrespectful to My Marriage’; Suburban Husband and Others Busted in Prostitute Sting”, Chesterfield Observer, August 15 2007.
- “Seven Men Arrested Following Undercover Operation”, Press Release, Chesterfield County Police Department, January 14 2009.
- “Chesterfield Targets Prostitution Along Hotel Corridor”, Richmond Times-Dispatch, March 30 2013.
- “News Briefs: Police Arrest 26 in Anti-Prostitution Operation”, Chesterfield Observer, April 3 2013.
- “Anti-Prostitution Stings Move from Streets to Internet”, Chesterfield Observer, April 10 2013.
- “Chesterfield Police Arrest Nine in Prostitution Sting”, NBC/WWBT-TV 12, October 17 2013.
- “Midlo Pastor Found Guilty of Soliciting Prostitution,” Chesterfield Observer, August 26 2015.
- https://www.radio.com/newsradiowrva/news/local/chesterfield-police-arrest-20 (2021)
- https://www.whsv.com/police-20-people-arrested-for-soliciting-sex-from-minors-online-social-media-chesterfield/ (2021)
- https://www.chesterfieldobserver.com/chesterfield-police-arrest-20-for-solicitation-in-online-chatting-operation/ (2021)
- https://www.wric.com/20-men-arrested-for-seeking-sex-with-minors-in-chesterfield-online-sting-operation/ (2021)
- https://www.wric.com/16-men-face-charges-in-chesterfield-police-sex-sting/ (2022)
- https://www.whsv.com/16-suspects-arrested-chesterfield-online-sex-sting/ (2022)
- https://vpm.org/police-agencies-arrest-36-people-during-sex-solicitation-sting (2022)
- https://www.wric.com/chesterfield-police-arrest-nine-after-online-chat-sting-operation/ (2023)
- https://www.wavy.com/chesterfield-judge-sets-deadline-in-solicitation-case-against-virginia-beach-pastor/ (2023)
- https://www.wric.com/conflict-of-interest-reportedly-cited-chesterfields-top-prosecutor (2023)
Background on Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Portsmouth Man Arrested on Prostitution Charges in Chesterfield County,” CBS/WCAV-TV 19, November 16 2015.
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Man Pleads Guilty to Running Prostitution Ring”, Chesterfield Observer, September 17 2008.
- “Prostitution Sting Operation Nets Eight”, Chesterfield Observer, August 5 2009.
- “Two Prostitution Arrests”, Chesterfield Observer, August 26 2009.
- “Several Arrested on Prostitution Charges”, Chesterfield Observer, February 17 2010.
- “Two Arrested on Prostitution Charges”, Chesterfield Observer, July 14 2010.
- “Two Caught in the Act”, Chesterfield Observer, July 28 2010.
- “Prostitution Arrests”, Chesterfield Observer, August 25 2010.
- “Two People Charged with Prostitution”, Chesterfield Observer, October 27 2010.
- https://richmond.com/chesterfield-judge-chides-police-chief-prosecutor-for-public-dispute-in-pastor-sex-case (2023)