Franklin County, WA

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 of approximately 98,000 residents located in central Washington state. Its largest city and county seat is Pasco, WA. Pasco is one of three cities that make up the Tri-Cities region of the state (along with Richland and Kennewick). Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been documented in incorporated and unincorporated areas of Franklin County. These activities and their ancillary crimes have generated complaints to local law enforcement from residents and businesses. Among the more serious issues associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking.

Efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex in the county have occurred. To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has conducted street-level and web-based reverse stings. These operations are usually conducted in response to complaints from residents and businesses. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office often discloses the identities of the arrested sex buyers to local media outlets. For example, in 2018 the Pasco Street Crimes Unit, with help from the county prosecutor’s office and the Sexual, Advocacy, & Resource Center, responded to internet ads soliciting money for sex. Six women were arrested in the sting. Four of them were charged with misdemeanor prostitution, while the other two were charged with felony drug possession. Two men were also arrested and charged with second degree promoting prostitution. The names of these individuals were released to the public.

Additionally, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the Pasco Police Department have participated in the FBI’s annual child sex trafficking investigations, Operation Cross Country. For example, in 2016 undercover police officers placed an ad on Back Page and later arrested two people who contacted them for promoting prostitution in the second degree. During the same week, authorities found five other women being exploited for prostitution in Pasco. These multi-agency operations consist of street-level and web-based reverse stings focused on apprehending sex buyers and sex traffickers, and identifying minors who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and Pasco Police Department have also apprehended sex buyers and traffickers through investigations of offenses against real victims, rather than through decoy operations. They have conducted multiple raids on buildings serving as places for prostitution activity to occur. During these raids, police have arrested male sex buyers and male sex traffickers. In addition to arrests, the identities of arrested offenders are frequently released to local media outlets.

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Sex Trafficking:

Background on Local Prostitution:

State Washington
Type County
Population 98268
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