Florence, SC

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Florence is a city in South Carolina with a population of about 40,000 residents, 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 sex buyers being robbed while soliciting sex and the local activity of a serial killer that specifically targeted prostituted women. Child neglect is also among the many problems associated with the local prostitution market. For example, in June 2016, a woman police arrested for solicitation of prostitution was also charged with child neglect after she brought an infant to the motel to meet who she thought was a sex buyer. Officers arrested the 20-year-old woman after an undercover officer responded to her online ad soliciting sexual services. Officers met her at a Florence motel and subsequently arrested her on the solicitation charge. During her arrest, she mentioned a baby who was still in the room. When officers returned to the motel room, they found the infant on the bed. The woman was charged with solicitation of prostitution and unlawful neglect of a child. She was booked into the Florence County Detention Center and two days later was released on $3,500 bond.

Among the efforts to contain local sex trafficking and prostitution activity have been the use of tactics focusing on combatting demand. Reverse stings have been used to arrest sex buyers 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 has also routinely conducted web-based reverse stings using decoy ads on websites known for prostitution. 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 resulted in the arrest of seven sex buyers, one in January 2014 resulting in three arrested sex buyers, and a fourth operation conducted in December 2014 that intercepted nine men attempting to purchase sex. Arrested sex buyers can face a maximum penalty of a $500 fine or 30 days in jail.

Key Sources

Reverse Stings:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Prostitution Related Child Neglect:

State South Carolina
Type City
Population 39958
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