Cowlitz County, WA

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

Cowlitz County is a county located in the U.S. state of Washington and has a population of approximately 116,000 residents. Its county seat is Kelso and its largest city is Longview. Instances of prostitution have been documented in the county. This activity and its ancillary crimes have generated complaints to local law enforcement from residents and businesses. For example, in 1984, a Longview couple was arrested after officers saw a flyer advertising their home as the “Party Palace.” According to reports, the house was described as a location for “swingers.” When an undercover officer was making a phone reservation, the husband allegedly promised the officer “good looking women and good sex” if he came. Upon arriving to the residence, the undercover officers were offered sex acts in exchange for money. Later that evening officers raided the home and arrested the couple on prostitution charges. The female offender was found guilty of prostitution (a misdemeanor) and the male offender was found guilty of second degree promoting prostitution (a felony). The couple was sentenced to five days in jail and the male offender was ordered to complete 200 hours of community service. Other serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market in Cowlitz County include child sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation. In 2012 and 2013, the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Kalama man suspected of assaulting and threatening to kill prostituted women.

Efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex in the county have occurred. The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office has arrested sex buyers through alternative investigations and as the result of residential reports to local law enforcement. For example, in 2012 and 2013, the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office and the Kalama Police Department conducted multiple joint investigations into a local man suspected of patronizing prostituted people. According to reports and phone calls from concerned residents, the man is a repeat offender. Additionally, numerous prostituted woman have reported the sex buyer to police after being assaulted, threatened, and refused payment by the sex buyer.

Neighborhood action is another demand tactic implemented in Cowlitz County. For example, in 2016, a local group known as the “Punisher Squad,” was formed and began creating false social media accounts, posing as young girls in an effort to communicate with sexual predators. When the subject appeared at the predetermined meeting place to have a sexual encounter, the “Punisher Squad” would confront them. A typical sting operation consists of communicating with potential sex buyers and/or sexual exploiters, the group meeting the suspected offender in a predetermined location, confronting them of their crimes, and having the suspected offender report their crimes to the police. According to reports, at least three of these sting operations resulted in arrests.

Key Sources

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Identity Disclosure:

Neighborhood Action, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Prostitution, Sex Trafficking, Related Violence:

Local Criminal Codes:

State Washington
Type County
Population 116116
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