Dalton, GA

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

Dalton is a city of approximately 33,000 residents, located 30 miles southwest of Chattanooga in Whitfield County, Georgia. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. For example, in 2006, the Dalton Police Department conducted 3 street-level reverse stings after local residents complained about street prostitution in certain neighborhoods. The operations (alternately dubbed “Dear John” and “Operation Trick or Treat”) utilized undercover female officers as decoys. A backup team monitored men’s interactions with the decoy on video surveillance. A total of 26 male sex buyers were arrested. Dalton police released all arrestees’ names and identities to the local media. All of the men were charged with pandering. The Dalton Daily Citizen reported that one sex buyer was sentenced to 7 days in jail and forced to pay a $1,000 fine.  Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking. For example, in May, 2019, a Dalton resident who was the lead defendant in a child sex trafficking case pleaded guilty to charges of conducting a child exploitation enterprise, conspiring to engage, and engaging, in sex trafficking minors by force, fraud, or coercion, sex trafficking of children under 18 years old, interstate transport of a minor for prostitution, producing child pornography (better described as child sexual abuse materials, or CSAM, but referred to in most state laws as “child pornography”), and distributing cocaine to a person under 21 years old. The offender produced CSAM and coerced child victims into engaging in sexual abuse in some instances through the use of alcohol and cocaine. The offender allegedly sex trafficked least six girls between 16 and 17 years old through through the use force, fraud, and coercion. After pursuing some of the girls on Facebook and Snapchat, posted provocative photographs of them in the adult entertainment and escort sections of Backpage.com, to solicit men to engage in sexual abuse of the minors for money. The defendant required the young girls to submit to sexual abuse multiple men each night and kept a large portion of the money they earned. The case was investigated by the Dalton Police Department, collaborating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the Murray County Sheriff’s Office.

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response.  A web-based reverse sting was conducted in March 2017 by the Dalton Police Department, and netted seven arrests as police continued to address complaints of prostitutes working in the area. Eight people had been arrested in February 2017 in a similar police operation. In each, an undercover officer posed as a prostituted person for the operation. Investigators placed an ad online and the suspects agreed to meet with the officer at a hotel on the west side of Dalton. In the February 2017 operation, potential sex buyers met at an apartment on the east side of Dalton. The identities of the arrested men were publicly released, and each was charged with one count of misdemeanor pandering against a person 18 years of age or older

Key Partners

  • Dalton Police Department
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Homeland Security Investigations
  • Georgia Bureau of Investigation
  • Murray County Sheriff’s Office

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure:

Employment Loss:

Background on Local Prostitution, Sex Trafficking, Related CSAM and Drug Offenses:

State Georgia
Type City
Population 33128
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