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Durham is a city of about 276,000 residents located 30 miles northeast of North Carolina’s capital, Raleigh. It is the county seat of Durham County. Cases of prostitution, sex trafficking, and child sex trafficking are prevalant within Durham. Ancillary crimes as well as serious crimes against prostituted women, including assault and murder, have also been well-documented. For example, in July 2010, a man was charged after “one of his friends told investigators that [the man] admitted to killing a prostitute and asked him to help dispose of her remains. Prosecutors said [the man] told investigators that he only found the remains and planned to use them for his sexual gratification.” An autopsy determined that the woman may have been shot in the head. The case was unfortunately dismissed due to withheld evidence.
In response to community complaints, Durham law enforcement agencies have adopted several demand-driven tactics to deter sex buyers. In 2004, the Durham Police Department began posting the names and pictures of arrested sex buyers on their website. The police department named this program Prostitution Impact Mitigation Program, or PIMP. The names, ages, and addresses of arrestees are also released to local media outlets, many of whom published these details.
The main tactics used to combat demand for local commercial sex in Durham are street-level and web-based reverse stings. In 2008, a reverse sting resulted in nine arrests for solicitation of prostitution. In February 2020, 18 men were arrested for solicitation of prostitution in a web-based reverse sting, the largest number of arrests in a single day for this crime. According to local news, “Undercover investigators posed as local sex vendors online, posting fake ads on websites to draw buyers in. After men fell for the scheme, investigators arranged to meet each of them in a Durham hotel.” This joint operation involved deputies from the Durham County Sheriff’s Office in the Anti-Crime and Narcotics Unit and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
In November 2019, a man was sentenced to at least 18 years in prison after being found guilty by a Durham County jury of attempted human trafficking of a minor and first-degree kidnapping. The man had taken a 16-year-old girl from Charlotte to Greensboro and then to the Raleigh-Durham International Airport against her will in an attempt to send her out of state to work as a prostitute.
In March 2022, A Durham man was sentenced to more than 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to trafficking two North Carolina minors into prostitution in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. According to local news reports, the man threatened the two minors, whom he knew to be under eighteen, if they did not perform sex acts for money. In an unrelated instance the same month, another Durham man was arrested by the Durham Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division’s Special Victims Unit. He was charged with three counts of human trafficking and one count of first-degree kidnapping. His bond was set at $10 million.
- Durham Police Department
- Four High Enforcement Abatement Teams (HEATs)
- Selective Enforcement Team
- Warrant Squad
- Special Operations Division
- Uniform Patrol
- Crisis Intervention Team
- Criminal Investigations Division, Special Victims Unit
- Durham County Sheriff’s Office
- Anti-Crime and Narcotics Unit
- North Carolina SBI
Street-Level Reverse Stings:
- “Durham Police Arrest 13 in Prostitution Sting”, CBS/WRAL-TV 5, December 23 2004.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets Seven Arrests”, Raleigh News & Observer, July 15 2006.
- “14 Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, Raleigh News & Observer, October 15 2006.
- “Inmates Arrested during Prostitution Sting”, CBS/WRAL-TV 5, July 16 2007.
- “Work-Release Program Investigated after Inmates Caught in Prostitution Sting”, CBS/WRAL-TV 5, July 16 2007.
- “Prostitution Arrests Include 3 Prisoners”, Raleigh News & Observer, July 17 2007.
- “Durham Officers Arrest 24 People in Two-Day Sting”, CBS/WRAL-TV 5, September 15 2008.
- “Police Bust More than Two Dozen in Undercover Prostitution Sting”, NBC/WNCN-TV 17, November 24 2009.
- “Police Arrest 21 People in Prostitution Operation”, McClatchy Tribune-Regional News, April 28 2012.
- https://abc11.com/18-charged-with-soliciting-prostitution-in-durham/5912090/ (2020)
- https://9thstreetjournal.org/durham-sheriff-and-state-police-use-fake-website-to-disrupt-sex-trafficking/ (2020)
- “Durham Police Get PIMP; People Arrested on Prostitution Charges to Have Photos on Web”, Durham Herald-Sun, December 8 2004.
Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Retired Police Officer Says He Didn’t Kill Prostitute”, CBS/WRAL-TV 5, June 24 1997.
- “Durham Police Seek Help Solving Gruesome Murder”, CBS/WRAL-TV 5, May 13 2004.
- “Man Pleads Guilty to Stabbing Prostitute 70 Times”, CBS/WRAL-TV 5, December 13 2007.
- “Woman in Backpack May Have Been Shot in Head”, CBS/WRAL-TV 5, November 24 2010.
- https://www.wral.com/news/local/story/10004288/ (2011)
- “Woman Shot to Death in Front of Durham Church”, NBC/WNCN-TV 17, February 26 2014.
- “Durham Commissioner: Woman Died in Neighborhood Beset by Drugs, Prostitution”, Raleigh News & Observer, February 27 2014.
Background on Prostitution and Child Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- “Bell Calls for More Aggressive Crime Measures after Murders”, Duke Chronicle, October 3 2002.
- “Briefs”, Durham Herald-Sun, June 7 2003.
- “Prostitution Stings Result in 7 Arrests”, Raleigh News & Observer, November 19 2005.
- “14 Women Charged with Prostitution”, Raleigh News & Observer, July 4 2006.
- “Officers Charged 6 with Prostitution”, Raleigh News & Observer, December 30 2006.
- “Nine Face Charges in Prostitution Sting”, Raleigh News & Observer, April 24 2007.
- “Some Durham Officers Cleared in Sex Probe”, CBS/WRAL-TV 5, December 6 2007.
- “2 Durham Officers Resign Amid Sex Probe”, CBS/WRAL-TV 5, January 18 2008.
- “AG’s Office Asked to Review Police Prostitution Case”, NBC/WNCN-TV 17, May 23 2008.
- “Operation Leads to Drop in Area Crime”, Duke Chronicle, October 8 2008.
- “Successful Initiatives Have Durham Crime Rate’s Dropping”, Duke Chronicle, July 1 2011.
- “Police Charge 21 in Durham Prostitution Investigation”, Raleigh News & Observer, April 27 2012.
- “Visiting High Schoolers Hire Prostitutes in Durham”, CBS/WRAL-TV 5, September 7 2012.
- “Durham Police Arrest 7 in Prostitution Sting”, NBC/WNCN-TV 17, May 1 2013.
- “Durham Police Tout Efforts to Cut Crime in Violent Part of City”, NBC/WNCN-TV 17, October 10 2013.
- “Operation Bull’s Eye Targets Durham Crime”, Duke Chronicle, October 23 2013.
- http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/05/08/3846597/durham-police-charge-two-people.html (2014)
- https://www.wral.com/man-found-guilty-of-trying-to-sell-16-year-old-into-prostitution/18786344/ (2019)
- https://www.wral.com/feds-durham-man-forced-nc-girls-to-be-prostitutes-in-myrtle-beach/20278670/ (2022)
- https://www.cbs17.com/news/local-news/durham-county-news/durham-man-held-on-10m-bond-for-human-trafficking-charges/ (2022)