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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 NJ.com. 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.
- Fort Lee Police Department
- Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office
Arrest of Sex Buyers, Identity Disclosure:
- https://patch.com/fortlee/3-men-who-ran-bergen-prostitution-ring-indicted-human-trafficking-charges (2016)
- https://www.nj.com/rabbi_arrested_as_pair_accused_of_prostituting_teen (2018)
Background on Local Sex Trafficking and Prostitution:
- “IRS: Prostitutes’ Millions Laundered in N.J.,” Bergen County Record, July 24 1996.
- “SHELTER; A Time Limit on Motel Stays Hits Welfare Families Hard”, New York Times, March 3 1996.
- “Clean Sweep in South Hackensack? A $100m Make-over Town May Tear Down Seedy Route 46 Strip”, Bergen County Record, October 12 1996.
- “Man Held on Charges in Prostitution Case”, Bergen County Record, October 31 1996.
- “Runaway Girl, 14, Found at Motel”, Bergen County Record, July 17 1997.
- “Massage Parlor Bust Results in Five Arrests,” Bergen County Record, March 30 2002.
- “Two Arrested on Prostitution, Drug Charges in S. Hackensack”, Bergen County Record, March 18 2003.
- “Crackdown on Rte. 46 Results in 56 Arrests”, Bergen County Record, July 18 2003.
- “Alleged Paramus Brothel Busted, Rented House Used as Base, Cops Say,” Bergen County Record, March 3 2005.
- “Cops: Brothel Bust Yields Videos of Clients; Paramus Police Chief Warns Such Customers of Potential That They Could Be Blackmailed,” Newark Star-Ledger, March 3 2005.
- “Highway of Cheap Thrills”, Bergen County Record, January 8 2006.
- “SHPD Arrests Five in Prostitution Operation”, Bergen County Record, March 7 2008.
- “South Hackensack Cops Crack Prostitution Den”, Bergen County Record, October 2 2008.
- “Police Break up Alleged Prostitution Ring in Paramus,” Hasbrouck Heights Patch, January 31 2011.
- “South Hackensack Cracks Down on Prostitution”, Bergen County Record, October 7 2011.
- “Bergen County Prostitution Sweep Leads to 27 Arrests, $27k in Seizures,” Newark Star-Ledger, April 2 2012.
- “Sex Sting Found No Human Trafficking,” Bergen County Record, April 4 2012.
- “Prostitution in Paramus,” Paramus Post, January 11 2013.
- “Paramus Police Discover Prostitution in Paramus,” Paramus Post, January 15 2013.
- “Paramus Police Discover Male Prostitute,” Paramus Post, January 16 2013.
- “Paramus Police Make Prostitution Arrest,” Paramus Post, August 28 2014.
- “Paramus Police Say Neighbors Help Shut down a Brothel,” Newark Star-Ledger, August 28 2014.
- “New York Man Indicted for Allegedly Operating a Brothel in Paramus,” Bergen County Record, December 19 2014.
- https://newyork.cbslocal.com/fbi-16-juveniles-rescued-in-super-bowl-prostitution-bust/ (2014)
- https://www.ksdk.com/fbi-kids-13-to-17-rescued-from-super-bowl-prostitution (2014)
- https://newyork.cbslocal.com/nj-plans-to-crack-down-on-prostitution-at-super-bowl/ (2014)
- http://bergencountynjcriminallawyer.com/east-rutherford-detectives-heightened-alert-prostitution-super-bowl/ (2014)
- “South Hackensack Police Rescue Prostitute, 16, Charge Female Pimp with Human Trafficking”, Cliffview Pilot, October 2 2014.
- “Undercover Cops in South Hackensack Rescue Teen Girl who Was Forced into Prostitution”, Newsday, October 4 2014.
- “5 Indicted on Human Trafficking Charges for Allegedly Pimping Teenage Girl,” Newark Star-Ledger, April 14 2015.
- “Crackdown on Sex Trade on Rte. 46 in South Hackensack,” Bergen County Record, April 19 2015.
- “South Hackensack Police Arrest Man in Human Trafficking Case,” Bergen County Record, October 16 2015.
- https://parsippanyfocus.com/prostitution-arrest-at-hilton-hotel/ (2017)
- https://patch.com/22-arrested-major-nj-prostitution-human-trafficking-bust (2021)
- https://www.radio.com/22-nj-ny-residents-charged-in-trafficking-prostitution-ring (2021)