Clark County, NV

Tactics Used

Buyer Arrests
Reverse stings
Shaming
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Letters
Cameras
Web stings
License suspension

Clark County is the most populous county in Nevada, with approximately 2.3 million residents. The largest share of the county’s population lives within the city of Las Vegas (population of approximately 600,000), but the county also includes cities such as Henderson (population of over 300,000), in addition to unincorporated areas. The county has been identified by federal and local law enforcement as one of the nation’s largest hubs of prostitution and sex trafficking. Prostitution in the state of Nevada is legal in counties with populations under 700,000 residents and is illegal in counties with populations over 700,000 residents. In the State’s larger cities such as Carson City, Reno, and Las Vegas, prostitution is prohibited. Legal prostitution occurring within counties consisting of populations less than 700,000 residents, is strictly limited to licensed and regulated brothels. All other forms of prostitution remain illegal in the state of Nevada. Individuals seeking to purchase commercial sex outside of licensed and regulated brothels can be arrested and sanctioned. For more information about the Prostitution and Solicitation laws in Nevada click HERE.

To address the issue, local police have elaborated an aggressive and comprehensive strategy to arrest and educate sex buyers. In the National Assessment in 2012, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) reported having conducted dozens of street-level reverse stings and web stings annually, in addition to a few operations in Henderson, NV. For example, in 2014, the LVMPD participated in National Johns Suppression Initiative, an 18-day operation initiated by the Cook County Sheriff’s Department in Illinois that highlight the demand side of prostitution by targeting sex buyers and sex traffickers across the nation. The operation resulted in the arrest of 19 male sex buyers, three sex traffickers, and two individuals for prostitution-related thefts. In addition, eight minor and adult victims of sex trafficking were rescued. The LVPD has continued conduct reverse stings to reduce the demand for commercial sex in order to ultimately eliminate prostitution and sex trafficking in the city. Officials believe that the demand for commercial sex plays a large role in the minor and adult sex trafficking that occurs within the area. For example, in 2020, the LVMPD identified 128 adult victims of sex trafficking, and 123 child sex trafficking victims (under the age of 18). In addition to street-level reverse stings, officers have also conducted web-based stings. In these operations, officers post decoy prostitution ads online and when sex buyers attempt to purchase sex from undercover officers, they are apprehended by police. In 2020, the LVPD arrested three male sex buyers in an online sting targeting individuals seeking to sexually exploit minors in exchange for money. According to officers, an undercover officer posted advertisements on known prostitution websites whereupon three male sex buyers contacted the undercover officer to exchange money for sex. The officer said he informed each of the potential sex buyers that the person they were seeking to sexually exploit was 15 years old. Three men met undercover officers at a predetermined location whereupon their arrival were arrested on charges of suspicion of soliciting a child for the purposes of prostitution and luring a child to engage in a sex act. The offenders’ identities, photos, ages, locations, and charges were included in reports from local news sources.

Additional demand reduction tactics in the county are SOAP (or Stay Out of Areas of Prostitution) orders vehicle towing, and john schools. SOAP (or Stay Out of Areas of Prostitution) orders ban sex buyers from entering neighborhoods in the county known for commercial sex sales. They may also have their vehicle towed, although state legislation prevents law enforcement from formally seizing it. Additionally, the LVPD has made a concerted effort to prevent arrestees from re-offending by operating one of the largest john schools in the nation. Launched in 1997, the First Offender Prostitution Program requires that participants have no prior offenses and were arrested within city limits. If accepted, a sex buyer must pay a $450 enrollment fee. The eight-hour course, which is offered in both English and Spanish and includes presentations from law enforcement, health clinicians, and former prostituted women, offers men the opportunity to have their solicitation charges reduced to a misdemeanor if they complete the course and avoid rearrest. Between 1997 and 2006, a total of 1,628 sex buyer completed the course– only 3 individuals subsequently were rearrested for soliciting.

The Henderson Police Department and Clark County Sheriff’s Office have conducted investigations and arrests of sex buyers. For example, in February 2014, the Henderson Police Department arrested a male sex buyer accused of pretending to be an officer after trying to solicit sex from a massage therapist at a Henderson spa. An employee at a local spa told detectives she was giving a man a massage when he asked her for sex. After she refused, the man allegedly identified himself as an officer and tried to arrest her. The man was not a police officer, but reportedly then told the employee that he was going to speak with his supervisor and walked out of the business. He did not return. During an investigation, the was pulled over and allegedly had a gold badge and handcuffs on the seat of his car. The man denied going to the spa but admitted to pretending to be a cop “to prevent a crime after he was offered sexual favors.” He was arrested and booked into the Henderson Detention Center on charges of impersonating an officer, burglary, and kidnapping. Henderson detectives had been investigating three other similar incidents that happened in early 2014 at massage parlors in that city. This was the second person in as many months accused of impersonating an officer in the Las Vegas Valley in prostitution-related cases. LVMP officers said another man had impersonated a police officer and raped two escorts on the Las Vegas Strip during two unrelated incidents in January 2014. In 2016, the a Clark County District Court found the offender to be guilty of numerous violent and sexual offenses and was faced with a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Loss of employment is also a consequence of sex buying in the county. For example, in 2020, LVMPD and FBI officials arrested 11 male sex buyers during an online operation. Operation Protect Our Children targeted online predators who attempted to meet and sexually exploit children. One of the 11 arrested sex buyers was a Clark County School District assistant principal. According to reports, the former assistant principle was charged with suspicion of luring a child for sex. After the arrest, the elementary school principal sent parents an email informing them about the situation. Parents were told that that the assistant principle would not be returning to campus, but rather be working from home, “per the negotiated agreement with their bargaining unit.” The arrested offender was not listed among faculty and staff in the elementary school’s 2021-2022 school year directory.

Nevada’s state human trafficking legislation was strengthened in June, 2013, when the state legislature passed AB67.  The bill updates and strengthens laws against sex trafficking, including enhancing punishments for procuring minors for commercial sex.

Key Sources

John School:

Reverse Stings:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Child Endangerment:

Loss of Employment:

State Nevada
Type County
Population 2267000
Location
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