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Delaware County is located in central Indiana and has a population of roughly 114,000. The county seat is the city of Muncie. Delaware County is part of the larger Indianapolis-Carmel-Muncie statistical area. Prostitution activity has been well-documented within the county for more than 90 years, and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses, and is often connected to sex trafficking and other crimes. For example, a prostitution sting in Delaware County in 2017 resulted in the arrests of five women in one night. Deputies found them on a website was supposed to have been barred from posting sex ads, but worked around restrictions by posting prostitution ads on legitimate sections of the site. Undercover deputies with the Delaware County Sheriffs Office said it only takes seconds to find local prostituted persons online and many others will travel from anywhere in central Indiana to the Muncie area to make some money and often, to buy drugs. In one case, a woman was arrested for possession of drugs and a man was arrested outside the hotel for driving the woman to Muncie, but deputies and advocates said that arresting prostituted persons isn’t always the goal, with many of the women being forced into the trade of prostitution, and are victims of human trafficking. Documented cases of prostitution rings involving sex trafficked teens have occurred within the county.
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. County agencies have supported demand reduction activities in multiple communities. For example, in an effort to reduce the demand for prostitution, local police began conducting reverse stings in 1996. The identities of those arrested have been released to news outlets. Police have also taken the cell phones of women arrested for prostitution and used them to make appointments with sex buyers, who were subsequently arrested. More recent operations have used decoy internet ads to attract the attention of sex buyers, including those seeking to sexually abuse children. For example, in 2018 a “sexual predator sting” called “Operation Child’s Play” was conducted by members of the Delaware County Narcotics Unit. A member of the task force posted an ad on “numerous” escort websites January 30, 2018, and received about 400 text messages in reply. The officer who posted the ad was posing as a 15-year-old.
- Delaware County Sheriff’s Office
- Delaware County Narcotics Unit
- Muncie Police Department
Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “Five Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” Muncie Star Press, October 14 2003.
- “Sex Sting Suspect Won’t Quit,” Muncie Star Press, August 13 2008.
- “Muncie Police Department Year End Report for 2009,” Muncie Police Department, January 15 2010.
- “Busted; Three Men Jailed after Muncie Prostitution Sting; Men Were Accused of Offering Money for Sex to Muncie Police Officers Posing as Prostitutes,” Muncie Star Press, September 27 2011.
- https://www.heraldbulletin.com/news/local_news/anderson-man-nabbed-in-muncie-sex-sting/ (2018)
Background on Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Ind. Woman Charged with Promoting Juvenile Prostitution in Lansing,” Times of Northwest Indiana, March 16 2012.
- “Muncie-Area Teens ‘Rescued’ from Prostitution Ring,” Indianapolis Star, November 14 2013.
- https://www.indystar.com/sex-trafficking-muncie-just-went-hysterical/ (2016)
- https://www.thestarpress.com/prostitution-case-ends-muncie-womans-guilty-plea (2018)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- https://cite.case.law/ind/200/43/ (1928)
- “Police Planning Crackdowns on Prostitution,” Muncie Star Press, July 1 2008.
- “Five Arrested, Charged in Weekend Undercover Prostitution Sting,” Muncie Star Press, August 5 2008.
- “Prostitution Sting Yields Two Suspects,” Muncie Star Press, September 13 2009.
- “Crime-Solving; Muncie John Arrested on Prostitution Charge,” Muncie Star Press, June 12 2010.
- https://www.thestarpress.com/prostitution-sting-leads-muncie-arrests (2016)
- https://fox59.com/prostitution-busts-stem-from-website-barred-from-posting-sex-ads/ (2017)
Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Alleged Prostitute Jailed in Attempted Robbery,” Muncie Star Press, February 15 2005.
- “Muncie Police: Robbery Follows Failed Prostitution Attempt,” Muncie Star Press, March 30 2010.