Franklin County, VA

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

Franklin County is a county located in the Blue Ridge foothills of Virginia, and has a population of about 56,000.  Its county seat is Rocky Mount, and it is part of the Roanoke, VA Metropolitan Statistical Area.  Prostitution and sex trafficking activity in the county are well-documented.  For example, in 2013 four people were arrested as a result of a Rocky Mount police investigation of a prostitution business that advertised through social media.  A sting operation was set up and undercover agents set up meetings in the town, and arrested those offering to sell sex.  In 2015, a Franklin County man was sentenced in federal court for forcing a local woman to engage in prostitution through the use of physical violence and threats.  The man plead guilty to one count of recruiting, harboring and causing an individual to engage in commercial sex through force, threats of force, fraud and coercion (Human Trafficking) and one count of using interstate commerce to promote an enterprise involving prostitution.

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. For example, in August 2016, a web-based reverse sting was conducted that target a man attempting to buy sex with minors.  A man who believed he was speaking with a 15-year-old girl to engage in prostitution was actually speaking online with an undercover Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy. Prosecutors said while posing as a 15-year-old girl, a Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy responded to a Craigslist ad posted by Paisley seeking a “personal/casual” encounter. The suspect gave the deputy a cell phone number and the two started texting. During the course of their exchanges, the suspect provided standard prices for the services his escorts offered and the two arranged to meet in order for the “female minor” to perform oral sex on him.  Prosecutors said the suspect left his home in Salem and drove to Franklin County to meet with the teenager, but he was subsequently arrested and waived his right to be indicted.  He pleaded guilty to one county of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. At his sentencing in the U.S. District Court in Roanoke, he faces a possibly statutory maximum sentence of up to live in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000. He also faces a mandatory maximum term of supervised release of five years and a maximum term of life.  The man admitted he helped run an escort service, which involved recruiting women to engage in sex for pay and also helped arrange for prostitutes and customers to meet up while taking a portion of the fees paid for making the arrangements. In court, he said at least two of the girls he helped recruit were 17-years-old. The investigation of the case was conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.  Assistant United States Attorneys office prosecuted the case for the United States.

Key Partners

  • Franklin County Sheriff’s Office
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
State Virginia
Type County
Population 56264
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