Cumberland County, ME

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

Cumberland County is located in southern Maine and contains the state’s largest city – Portland – as well as smaller cities including Brunswick, Cumberland, and Scarborough.  In 2020 its population was roughly 295,000. Cases of sex trafficking and other problems associated with commercial sex have been well documented for many years. For example, in 2014, a 19-year-old homeless woman was forced to sell sex in several Maine counties, including Cumberland, and fled when she learned her traffickers in Maine had been offered $30,000 by a Boston pimp to buy her. In September, 2019, a 46 year old woman was sentenced in U.S. District Court to five months in prison and three years of supervised release for using a facility of interstate commerce to “promote prostitution.” Court records reveal that in April, 2017, she went to a motel in Scarborough, where she met with her adult son and a female victim, who was 15 years old.  The defendant booked a room at the motel, exchanged telephone numbers with the victim, and left the victim in the rented motel room. The defendant and the victim later texted about the victim’s prostitution (actually, sex trafficking) activities, with the defendant driving the victim to be sexually abused by a “client.” The victim engaged in multiple commercial sexual abuse acts while she was in the room the defendant rented. The defendant’s son was sentenced in a related case to nine years in prison for conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor. Records in that case show that in the days before he and the female victim met with the defendant in Scarborough, the man was trafficking the victim in the Bangor area.

Among the methods of combating the wide range of problems associated with the illicit commercial sex trade are those intended to combat consumer level demand.  For example, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office has staged web-based prostitution stings, including operation resulting in multiple arrests of men for soliciting prostituted women. The names, photos, and identifiers of those arrested were released to the media. In August, 2011, seven men were arrested and charged with “engaging a prostitute” in Cumberland County. The arrested men allegedly responded to an online advertisement in which a female sheriff’s deputy posed as a prostituted woman conducting “in call services.” During the two-day operation, police said more than 150 phone calls from males seeking to pay for sex were received and the seven men arrested allegedly responded to a hotel complex where they allegedly paid money for prostitution.

In 2018, eight male sex buyers faced prostitution-related charges after three Portland-area police departments completed a prostitution sting. Police from South Portland, Portland and Scarborough performed the detail, and all eight men faced a charge of “engaging a prostitute.” The photos and other identifiers of the men were included in news reports.

In March, 2022, police arrested six men during a prostitution sting in the Brunswick area of the County. The identities of the arrested sex buyers were publicly disclosed in news reports. All six men were charged with “engaging a prostitute,” a Class E misdemeanor. Class E crimes are punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The six men charged had court dates scheduled for June, 2022.  The arrests were the result of a joint operation involving officers from Brunswick, South Portland, Gorham and Falmouth, as well as the Greater Portland Coalition Against Sex Trafficking and Exploitation and agents from the Department of Homeland Security.

Key Partners

  • Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office
  • Yarmouth Police Department
  • Bridgton Police Department
  • Brunswick Police Department
  • Scarborough Police Department
  • Greater Portland Coalition Against Sex Trafficking
  • Homeland Security Investigations

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:

State Maine
Type County
Population 294520
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