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Clark County is the most populous county in Nevada, with approximately 2.2 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.
- City of Las Vegas’ First Offender Prosecution Program – Official Website
- “‘John School’ A Crash Course in Prostitution”, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 1st, 1998.
- ‘Johns’ school’ students learn street ways (1999)
- “FIRST OFFENDER PROGRAM: Johnny Be Good”, Las Vegas Review-Journal, October 8th, 2002.
- “Adult Education”, Las Vegas City Life, October 20th, 2005.
- “‘John School’ Teaches Men the Uglier Facts of Life”, Las Vegas Sun, January 6 2008.
- Life Wisdom Foundation (online john school class)
- “Gynecologist Arrested in John Sting”, Las Vegas Sun, May 20 1996.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets Part-Time Judge”, Las Vegas Review-Journal, June 27 2006.
- “Arrest Report Reveals New Details in Henderson Officer’s Arrest”, CBS/KLAS-TV 8, August 28 2010.
- “Las Vegas Metro Officer Arrested for Soliciting Prostitution”, ABC/KTNV-TV 13, September 14 2011.
- “LVMPD ‘Buyer Beware’ Program Arrests 144”, CBS/KLAS-TV 8, August 23 2012.
- Federal Operation Cracks Down on Prostitution (2014)
- CA Officer Solicited Prostitution from Undercover Vegas Cop (2014)
- https://lasvegassun.com/henderson-police-say-spa-customer-impersonated-off/ (2014)
- LVMPD focus on arrest sex buyers on Las Vegas Strip (2021)
- I-Team: Metro undercover operation targets pimps on Las Vegas Strip (2021)
Loss of Employment:
- Clark County School District assistant principal arrested in online sting (2020)
- CCSD assistant principle charged with suspicion of luring a child for sex (2020)
Background on Local Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation:
- “Asian Prostitution Rings On the Rise”, Las Vegas Sun, September 25 2000.
- “Teen Prostitution Scourge Grows”, Las Vegas Sun, January 7 2007.
- “Plan For Teen Prostitute ‘Safe House’ in Las Vegas”, Las Vegas Herald, May 14 2008.
- “FBI Busts Child Prostitution Rings; Las Vegas Teen Rescued”, Las Vegas Sun, October 27 2008.
- “Group Rallies to Bring Attention to Child Prostitution”, Las Vegas Sun, September 27 2009.
- “Asian Community Leaders Gather to Fight Human Trafficking”, CBS/KLAS-TV 8, November 4 2009.
- “51 Arrested in Las Vegas Area As Part of Effort to Curb Child Prostitution”, Las Vegas Sun, November 8 2010.
- “One Woman’s Escape From Human Trafficking”, Las Vegas Sun, April 3 2012.
- “National Child Prostitution Sweep Nets Arrests in Las Vegas”, NBC/KSNV-DT 3, June 26 2012.
- “LAS VEGAS: Redlands Girl Rescued in Prostitution Plot”, Riverside Press-Enterprise, September 7 2012.
- “Sex Trafficking of Children: Las Vegas’ Deep, Dark Secret”, Las Vegas Sun, November 1 2012.
- “Nevada Committee Passes Major Sex Trafficking Bill”, Reno Gazette-Journal, April 9 2013.
- “Police Suspect Human Trafficking, Prostitution at Vegas House”, FOX/KVVU-TV 5, June 20 2013.
- “Las Vegas Man Arrested for Sexually Exploiting Utah Teen”, CBS/KUTV-TV 2, November 24 2013.
- “2 Calif. Men Plead Guilty to Luring Girls to Las Vegas for Prostitution”, Las Vegas Sun, January 22 2014.
- “El Paso County Juvenile Probation Officer Charged in Connection with Sex Trafficking Gang”, El Paso Times, January 22 2014.
- “Man Pleads Guilty to Transporting Girl to Work as Prostitute”, NBC/KSNV-DT 3, January 29 2014.
- “Edison Man Pleads Guilty to Luring, Coercing Women into Prostitution Ring”, Newark Star-Ledger, February 11 2014.
- “Middlesex Pimp, Girlfriend Admit Roles in NJ Human Trafficking Prostitution Ring”, Cliffview Pilot, February 11 2014.
- “2 Men Get Prison after Girls Transported to Las Vegas for Prostitution”, Las Vegas Sun, May 1 2014.
- “Federal Operation Cracks Down on Prostitution”, Las Vegas Review-Journal, August 7 2014.
- “Man Pleads Guilty to Enticing Victim into Prostitution,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, June 3 2015.
- “Detective Attacks Hooker, Car Falls Off Semi, Boys Burn down Ballpark,” Arizona Daily Star, July 2 2015.
- “San Jose Man Sentenced to Prison for Coercion of Minors for Prostitution,” Imperial Valley News, July 15 2015.
- “How Girls Are Lured into Prostitution; Sex-Trafficking Cases Lag behind Sheer Number of Victims,” San Diego Union-Tribune, October 31 2015.
- https://www.justice.gov/usao-nv/pr/las-vegas-men-convicted-transporting-two-minor-girls-nevada-california-work-prostitutes (2015)
- https://lasvegassun.com/men-convicted-trafficking-teen-girls-las-vegas-pro/ (2015)
- “Jury Convicts Pimp of Torturing Woman Forced into Prostitution,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, March 14 2016.
- https://winslowrecord.com/man-accused-of-child-sex-trafficking-in-las-vegas-was-on-probation (2018)
- LVMPD arrest three men arrested in online sting (2020)
- LVMPD arrest five men arrested in online sting (2021)
- https://www.washingtonpost.com/vegas-child-sex-trafficking-victims-jailed/ (2021)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Hotbed for Prostitution: Tropicana Near the Strip”, CBS/KLAS-TV 8.
- “Police Say HIV a Growing Threat among Call Girls”, Las Vegas Sun, September 26 2003.
- “Motel Closed Amid Claims of Prostitution”, Las Vegas Sun, May 5 2005.
- “The Politics of a Prostitution Sting”, Las Vegas Weekly, July 27 – August 2 2007.
- “Las Vegas Tackles Prostitution with Strict Program”, CBS/KLAS-TV 8, January 8 2008.
- “Police Cracking Down on Prostitution Rings”, CBS/KLAS-TV 8, March 27 2008.
- “WOMEN IN NEED: Former Prostitute Earns a Win”, Las Vegas Review-Journal, August 13 2008.
- “Las Vegas Brothel Operators Sentenced to Prison”, Las Vegas Sun, October 16 2008.
- “Police Are Taking Unprecedented Steps to Keep Prostitution Offenders Off the Strip”, Las Vegas Review-Journal, February 15 2009.
- “Metro Wants County’s Weaker Prostitution Laws to Match City’s”, Las Vegas Sun, October 7 2009.
- “CLARK COUNTY COMMISSION: Dancer Crackdown Sought”, Las Vegas Review-Journal, October 7 2009.
- “Prostitution Advertising Ban Upheld”, Las Vegas Sun, July 29 2010.
- “Life After Prostitution: Bill Would Erase Convictions in Some Cases”, Las Vegas Sun, March 7 2011.
- “Stabbing Leads to Prostitution Sting”, CBS/KXNT-FM 100.5, March 14 2012.
- “Prostitution Crackdown in Las Vegas Is ‘Just the Beginning’”, CBS/KLAS-TV, August 2012.
- “Agents Charge Key Player in Las Vegas Escort Service”, Las Vegas Review-Journal, October 5 2012.
- “Motel Shut Down Over Prostitution”, CBS/KXNT-FM 100.5, November 5 2012.
- “Naked City Has Long Way To Go Ever After Oasis Motel Closing”, Las Vegas Review-Journal, November 12 2012.
- “Vegas Limo Co. Offering More Than Rides”, CBS/KXNT-FM 100.5, December 14 2012.
- “Palms Fined $1 Million in Drugs, Prostitution Settlement”, NBC/KSNV-DT 3, January 12 2013.
- “Arrests ‘Imminent’ in Palms Drug and Prostitution Sting”, Las Vegas Review-Journal, January 15 2013.
- “Woman Shares Her Troubled Journey Through Prostitution”, CBS/KLAS-TV 8, January 28 2013.
- “For Months, Metro Tracked Officer’s Visits to Prostitute, Report Says”, Las Vegas Sun, June 13 2013.
- “Brothels in Nevada Suffer as Web Disrupts Oldest Trade”, Bloomberg, August 28 2013.
- https://awakenreno.org/the-truth-about-prostitution-laws-in-nevada/ (2019)
- https://www.nevadacurrent.com/man-falsely-jail-impersonating-cop-assaulting-prostitutes-sues-metro/ (2020)
- https://www.shouselaw.com/nv/blog/prostitution/counties-where-prostitution-is-legal-in-nevada/ (2021)
- https://www.nevadacurrent.com/report-tracks-federal-response-to-human-trafficking-in-nevada/ (2021)
- https://sheriff.douglascountynv.gov/arrests_sex_trafficking (2022)
- https://thenevadaindependent.com/if-nevadans-are-serious-about-ending-sex-trafficking-they-must-abolish-legal-prostitution (2022)
- https://www.nevadacurrent.com/heartbreaking-abuse-of-children-demands-a-major-shift-in-outlook/ (2023)
- https://thenevadaindependent.com/updating-the-nevada-policy-tracker-a-guide-to-key-issues-in-the-2023-legislative-session (2023)
- https://legiscan.com/NV/bill/AB157/2023 (2023)
- https://www.leg.state.nv.us/82nd2023/Bill/9821/Overview (2023)
- https://www.fox5vegas.com/nevada-legislature-bill-would-impose-harsher-penalties-prostitution/ (2023)
- https://thenevadaindependent.com/sex-trafficking-survivors-find-place-to-heal-through-support-advocacy-groups (2023)
- https://thenevadaindependent.com/misconceptions-debates-about-legalization-surround-sex-work-in-nevada (2023)
Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Police Say Man Admitted to 5 Murders in West”, St. Petersburg Evening Independent, November 17 1980.
- “Teen Runaway Killed in Las Vegas Hotel”, Spartanburg Herald-Journal, November 23 1997.
- “Investigator Ensures Trail Never Goes Cold”, Eugene Register-Guard, April 4 1999.
- “Las Vegas Man Found Guilty in Murder-for-Hire Scheme”, Reading Eagle, November 19 1999.
- “Vegas Murder Death Overturned,” Kingman Daily Miner, September 18 2002.
- “Serial Killings Study Prompts Police to Launch Investigations”, CBS/KSHB-TV 41, March 1 2011.
- “Second Woman Arrested in Strip Robbery, Shooting”, Las Vegas Sun, September 9 2013.
- “Prostitute Accused of Killing Pimp Boyfriend During Confrontation”, ABC/KTNV-TV 13, October 14 2013.
- “Prostitute Claims Self-Defense in Pimp Boyfriend’s Slaying”, FOX/KVVU-TV 5, October 14 2013.
- “Las Vegas Man Faces Charges in Fatal Shooting Outside Crazy Horse III”, Las Vegas Review-Journal, February 27 2014.
- “Evidence against Vegas Cop Accused of Assaulting Prostitute to Be Shown to Defense,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, April 28 2015.
- “Former Metro Detective Reaches Plea Deal in Alleged Assault on Prostitute,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, May 5 2015.
- “Detective Attacks Hooker, Car Falls Off Semi, Boys Burn down Ballpark,” Arizona Daily Star, July 2 2015.
- https://www.lasvegasnow.com/news/local-news/i-team-man-arrested-for-sexually-assaulting-2-women-is-ccsd-bus-driver (2018)