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Fayetteville is a city of about 87,000 residents located in northwest Arkansas. Fayetteville is the third-largest city in the state and serves as the government seat of Washington County. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities. For example, in 2013, the Fayetteville Police Department arrested five people in a prostitution sting—four women on misdemeanor prostitution charges and a 76-year-old man for sexual solicitation and disorderly conduct. During the sting, officers posed as potential clients and arranged to meet the women at a hotel. When the women arrived, they negotiated prices to exchange money for sexual acts and arrests were made. Sex trade activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking. For example, in June 2014, the Fayetteville Police Department (FPD) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations in Northwest Arkansas were alerted by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children of a prostitution advertisement depicting a suspected minor. The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office had received a report that a 16-year-old girl was missing. Officers obtained the minor’s cell phone records, which reflected that she was in contact with an individual just before her disappearance, and that the suspect had traveled from Georgia to the minor’s residence in Arkansas. Law enforcement later located the young girl and confirmed that she was 16 and had engaged in acts of commercial sexual abuse. In a subsequent interview, she identified her trafficker by the street name of “D” and stated that he took photographs of her and posted them to Backpage.com for the purposes of prostitution even though he knew her age. She also shared that in June 2014, multiple adult males exchanged money for sex acts with her in a room rented by “D” at a motel in Fayetteville. During the subsequent law enforcement investigation, FBI agents confirmed that the man uploaded the prostitution advertisements depicting the minor female. The man was arrested by the FPD in July 2014 for promoting prostitution and pleaded guilty to the charge in November 2014, and was required to register as a sex offender due to a previous conviction for Aggravated Sexual Assault, which involved the sexual abuse or sexual contact with a minor less than 14 years of age. In 2017, Fayetteville police arrested a man for human trafficking and commercial sex acts. Police were called for a harassment complaint where they found a woman who said she needed to “escape her pimp.” She told police that she was forced into prostitution and that her trafficker would beat and rape her. In May, 2021, a 21-year-old man was arrested for prostituting an 18-year-old woman against her will. The victim claimed that the trafficker had offered to give her a ride from Missouri to Arkansas, but instead of taking her home, rented a hotel room in Fayetteville where he threatened and forced her to have sex with multiple men for $200 each over a period of five days. Violence against prostituted women has also been documented in the area.
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. Demand reduction tactics used in the city. For example, in 2016, the Fayetteville Police Department arrested 14 people during a web-based reverse sting at a local hotel. Undercover officers contacted prostituted women through a website known for facilitating prostitution and text messages. Three men also faced charges for promoting prostitution, and according to the report, a gun and marijuana were also confiscated during the investigation. In 2022, agents from the FBI office in Fayetteville arrested an alleged human trafficker, apprehended three people who allegedly went or planned to travel to Arkansas to to have illegal sexual conduct with minors. The operation was part of Operation Cross Country XII and was done in collaboration with other police departments in the area.
Local arrests of sex buyers have also resulted from investigating allegations against real victims, as opposed to being the product of sting operations using police decoys. For example, in March, 2015, a former Arkansas Razorback basketball player was arrested on trafficking and prostitution charges in connection to the alleged sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl. Fayetteville officers were called to investigate the girl’s case, and he victim’s mother told police her daughter was raped multiple times over the weekend in several locations and that she’d exchanged sex for money. The alleged victim admitted that when she was supposed to be staying at a friend’s house, she went to an apartment of an adult female acquaintance (who was actually a child sex trafficker) where she was sexually abused by multiple men. She stated that a woman allowed her to drink and smoke marijuana and introduced her to a trafficker called “Allstar.” The woman also admitted to filming child sexual abuse material of the girl even though she was aware the man was over 18 and the victim was underage. The woman faced charges of Employing or Consenting to the Use of a Child in a Sexual Performance, Distributing, Possessing or Viewing Matter Depicting Sexually Explicit Conduct Involving a Child and Computer Exploitation of a Child. The sex buyer was found at a motel and told officers that he discovered the 14-year-old girl through the trafficker and sexually abused the young victim; he was charged with Trafficking a Person, Promoting of Prostitution and Sexual Assault. In 2021, a 22-year-old man was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison followed by 15 years of supervised release on one count of Using Facility of Interstate Commerce to Entice Minor to Engage in Sexual Activity and one count of Sex Trafficking of Children. In 2020, he contacted a 14-year-old girl on Snapchat and met with her for transactional sexual abuse on different occasions. After his arrest, investigators found text messages between him and another female minor where he offered to give the girl tobacco products in exchange for sexual abuse. This case was investigated by the Berryville Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations Fayetteville.
- Fayetteville Police Department
- Federal Bureau of Investigations in Northwest Arkansas
- Carroll County Sheriff’s Office
- Berryville Police Department
- Homeland Security Investigations Fayetteville
Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.abc4.com/former-razorback-arrested-on-human-trafficking-promoting-prostitution-charges (2015)
- https://www.5newsonline.com/green-forest-man-sentenced-15-years-federal-prison-child-sex-trafficking (2021)
- https://www.4029tv.com/fbi-fayetteville-arrest-alleged-human-trafficker (2022)
- https://www.5newsonline.com/fbi-child-sex-trafficking-northwest-arkansas (2022)
Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure:
Background on Local Sex Trafficking, Prostitution, and Violence Against Prostituted People:
- https://www.fbi.gov/two-men-sentenced-to-a-total-of-55-years-in-prison-for-unrelated-sexual-crimes-involving-minors (2015)
- https://www.nwahomepage.com/fayetteville-police-bust-fourteen-in-prostitution-sting (2016)
- https://www.5newsonline.com/sex-offender-arrested-for-sex-trafficking-in-fayetteville (2017)
- https://www.5newsonline.com/fayetteville-man-arrested-accussed-of-promoting-prostitution (2021)
- https://www.4029tv.com/20-year-old-fayetteville-man-arrested-for-human-trafficking (2021)
- https://www.nwahomepage.com/fbi-raids-fayetteville-apartment-nets-man-for-sex-trafficking-minors (2021)
- https://www.5newsonline.com/fayetteville-man-arrested-for-trafficking-minors-for-sex (2021)
- https://www.fayobserver.com/fayetteville-man-accused-forcing-woman-into-prostitution (2022)
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