Fort Lee, NJ

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

Fort Lee is a borough at the eastern border of Bergen County, New Jersey, situated along the Hudson River. As of the 2020 United States Census, the borough’s population was about 42,000. Fort Lee has longstanding problems with prostitution, but the trade seems to have expanded in recent years. This 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.

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.  Some local arrests of sex buyers have been the result of investigating allegations against real victims as opposed to the product of sting operations using police decoys. For example, after Fort Lee police discovered a prostitution network in and around North Jersey in January 2016, a grand jury in Bergen County delivered a 14-count indictment charging three men with human trafficking. The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office stated at the time of the arrests that one defendant took the officer to a room at the motel where a 17-year-old girl was “working” as a “prostitute.” Authorities said a man in the room man allegedly paid the defendant to sexually abuse the girl. An investigation revealed that two men coerced two juvenile girls to be sold for sexual abuse and would drive them to appointments that were set up online. The indictment states that the ring operated between Fort Lee and Sayerville in Middlesex County, from March 1 to April 12, 2015.  Two defendants were each indicted on two counts of conspiracy, human trafficking, facilitating human trafficking, endangering the welfare of a child, promoting prostitution of a child, and promoting prostitution. They were also indicted on financial facilitation of criminal activity and possession of weapon charges. The third man was the sex buyer, who was indicted on charges of prostitution with a child. The identities of all three men were publicly disclosed.

In February 2018, a New Jersey rabbi was among 30 men who had sex with a teenage girl who was forced into prostitution, they face charges of human trafficking. The Rabbi and several other buyers were arrested at a motel in Fort Lee, according to a report by The Daily Voice. The Rabbi’s identity was publicly disclosed.  The men were subsequently charged with 11 counts of human trafficking, as well as possession of child sexual abuse material, according to The Rabbi paid to sexually abuse the 17-year-old girl at a hotel and was later charged with engaging in prostitution with a child and endangering the welfare of the child. The man had previously served time in prison for indecent assault on a child under the age of 13 in Pennsylvania (Daily Voice). The 17-year-old girl from Lancaster, Pennsylvania had been coerced into being sexually assaulted for money by dozens of men during one month.

Key Partners

  • Fort Lee Police Department
  • Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office

Key Sources

Arrest of Sex Buyers, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Sex Trafficking and Prostitution:

State New Jersey
Type City
Population 41161
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