Florence, SC

Tactics Used

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

Florence is a city in South Carolina with a population of 37,000, located about 70 miles northwest of Myrtle Beach.  A wide range of problems associated with the local commercial sex market have been documented in this small city, including johns being robbed while soliciting sex and the local activity of a serial killer that specifically targeted prostituted women.  Among the efforts to contain local sex trafficking and prostitution activity have been the use of tactics focusing on combating demand.  Reverse stings have been used to arrest johns in the city since at least 2010, possibly earlier.  In one operation in 2010, 11 men were arrested for solicitation and their names, ages, and addresses were published in local media.

The Florence Police Department also routinely conducts web-based reverse stings using decoy ads on websites known for commercial sex sales. One such operation was conducted in October 2013 at an area hotel located on US 52 near I-95.  The operation was initiated in response to complaints from area motel managers of an increase in prostitution activity in the area.  An undercover female sheriff’s deputy posed as a prostituted woman advertising online. Numerous individuals responded to the ad and five suspects arranged for a meeting with the undercover deputy.  The five suspects were arrested when they verbally agreed to exchange money for sex.  The Florence County Sheriff’s Office PACE team and Florence Police Department narcotics investigators also assisted in the operation. Other web-based reversals include a sting in August 2013 that led to 10 arrests, another in December 2013 that netted seven johns, one in January 2014 resulting in three arrested sex buyers, and a fourth operation conducted in December 2014 that intercepted nine men attempted to purchase sex.

Arrested sex buyers can face a maximum penalty of a $500 fine or 30 days in jail.

Key Sources



State South Carolina
Type City
Population 31431
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