|IT Based Tactics||✓|
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.
Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “Prostitution Alleged,” Spokane Daily Chronicle, February 19 1980.
- Prostitution Declines (1980)
- Policewomen arrest 11 men (1985)
- 23 arrested in prostitution sting (1988)
- Franklin County Sheriff’s Arrests (1988)
- 11 arrested for soliciting prostitution (1989)
- Prostitution sting nets 13 arrests (1990)
- “Police Pleased by Success of Sex-Solicitation Sting,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 28 1990.
- Pasco arrests prostitution customers (1993)
- 9 arrested in Pasco on drug, prostitution charges (2000)
- https://keprtv.com/news/local/two-arrested-in-idaho-prostitution-sting-with-ties-to-tri-cities (2015)
Web-Based Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure:
- Operation Cross Country IX (2015)
- Franklin County approves home for sexually exploited girls in rural Pasco (2015)
- Operation Cross Country X (2016)
- 8 arrested in Pasco prostitution sting operation (2018)
- Pasco police crack down on prostitution in weekend sting (2018)
- Two men charged in sex trafficking sting (2018)
Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:
- 4 arrested on prostitution charges (1976)
- 12 jailed as Tri-city vice sweep nets 88 (1981)
- Pasco raid ‘a warning’ (1981)
- Raid nets 86 arrests (1981)
Background on Local Sex Trafficking:
- Pasco police arrest seven in prostitution sting with FBI (2016)
- Police arrest 8 in Pasco sex trafficking bust (2018)
- Franklin County approves home for sexually exploited girls in rural Pasco (2022)
- ‘From victim to thriver:’ Tri-Cities to house Washington’s first safe home for minor survivors of sex trafficking
- Franklin County judge sentences six-time sex trafficking offender to 25 years in prison following intensive trial
Background on Local Prostitution:
- Prostitution in Pasco described as a ‘cancer’ (1972)
- Two nabbed by ‘skinscam’ (1980)
- “Local Prostitution Moving Online”, CBS/KEPR-TV 19, January 24 2013.
- “Prostitution Sting Reveals Action in Tri-Cities,” CBS/KEPR-TV 19, October 15 2015.
- Pasco police arrest seven in prostitution sting with FBI (2018)