Delray Beach, FL

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Delray Beach is a city of 60,000, located along the southeastern coast of Florida in Palm Beach County. Prostitution, occurring both at street-level and within adult-oriented businesses, has posed serious problems in the community for several decades. For example, in Febriary 2018, two Delray Beach men were arrested and faced human-trafficking charges after city police alleged they forced at least three women into prostitution.  At least one of the women came to South Florida for drug treatment, and all three women are suffering from opioid addictions, and one of the accused traffickers supplied them with drugs. One of the women described the men’s actions as slavery, and another victim told police that one of the men would beat her if she did not turn over all of her prostitution earnings. In addition to human trafficking, commercial sex has been associated with a host of related crimes in Delray Beach, including multiple documented assaults and robberies of prostituted women, and at least one report of a young child being brought by a prostituted woman to a commercial sex transaction.  In 1994, a prostituted woman was shot and killed outside her home.

In an effort to reduce prostitution in the area, the Delray Beach Police Department began conducting reverse stings in 1976. Early operations were conducted at street-level, using female undercover officers as decoys along major thoroughfares. As early as 1988, the department began sharing the names and other identifying information about arrestees with major news outlets (e.g., the Boca Raton News). In the early 1990s, city officials considered taking out an advertisement in a local newspaper publicizing the names’ of individuals arrested for prostitution-related offenses, but it is unclear if such an ad was every placed.

A handful of county-level ordinances have also been used to determine sentences of johns arrested in Delray Beach. Individuals convicted of solicitation, for example, may have their license suspended, and/or may be served SOAP orders barring them from re-entering areas of the county associated with commercial sex sales.

Similarly, in the early to mid-1990s, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported that a Palm Beach County Circuit Judge had begun offering first-time offenders charged with solicitation the option of completing a diversion program in lieu of jail time. The program, instituted in February 1990, was composed of a two-hour class (dubbed Risk Education for Sex Offenders), a HIV blood test, mandatory attendance at four court hearings for prostituted women, and “reading a psychological profile of a prostitute who was diagnosed with AIDS.” For additional information about county-level efforts to reduce demand, see Palm Beach County.


Key Partners

  • Delray Beach Police Department
  • Palm Beach County Circuit Court

Key Sources

State Florida
Type City
Population 64112
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