Front Royal is a town in Warren County, Virginia, with a population of approximately 15,000 residents. It is the government seat of Warren County, and is within the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of Warren County. 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.In May, 2017 a regional work group led by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) was working to fight human trafficking in the Shenandoah Valley, and training was attended by officers and staff from the Front Royal Police Department and Warren County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office. The training focused on human trafficking offenses, the effects on the community, and how to combat human trafficking including how to effectively set up and run undercover operations. Subsequent local operations include a human trafficking investigation in 2018, in which the Front Royal Police Department participated in the arrest and eventual conviction of a man who used heroin as a means to control numerous women he trafficked as part of a commercial prostitution ring in the Western District of Virginia. The man faced a sentence between 20 years and life for charges including interstate transportation for prostitution and distribution of fentanyl resulting in death. He had operated a prostitution ring with at least six victims in Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. In March, 2019, the FBI Washington Field Office’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force arrested nine people involved in commercial sex on a variety of charges, two of whom were Front Royal residents. In that operation, police and the FBI investigated classified ads suspected of involving child sex trafficking. In another, three Virginia men were arrested on human trafficking and prostitution charges; one of the men was from Front Royal.
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. To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, the Front Royal Police Department has conducted operations focusing on men who purchase sex. For example, in a case spanning May 2018 into April, 2019, the mayor of Front Royal was charged with soliciting a prostitute, indicted for allegedly visiting a massage parlor in Front Royal, the small town he oversees, on two occasions. The man was scheduled to appear in Warren County Circuit Court, and announced that he would resign from office.
- Fort Royal Police Department
- Warren County Circuit Court
Arrest and Shaming of Sex Buyers:
- https://nypost.com/2019/04/15/mayor-accused-of-soliciting-prostitute-at-massage-parlor/ (2019)
- https://www.nvdaily.com/nvdaily/mayor-resigns-amid-court-proceedings (2019)
- https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Front-Royal-Mayor-Charged-with-Soliciting-Prostitute (2019)
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- https://www.cnn.com/2012/03/29/justice/virginia-prostitution-ring/index.html (2012)
- https://www.localdvm.com/news/eleven-arrested-in-prostitution-sting (2014)
- https://www.winchesterva.gov/human-trafficking-working-group-conducts-operations-winchester (2017)
- https://theriver953.com/man-convicted-running-western-va-prostitution-ring/ (2019)
- https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/9-Charged-for-Human-Trafficking-in-Arlington-County-507725181.html (2019)
- https://www.arlnow.com/2019/03/27/arlington-police-fbi-arrest-9-after-prostitution-bust/ (2019)
- http://www.fox5dc.com/news/local-news/multiple-people-facing-charges-in-arlington-co-following-human-trafficking-operation (2019)
- https://wjla.com/news/local/human-trafficking-operation-arlington-10-misdemeanor-felony-charges (2019)
- https://www.capitalgazette.com/ph-ho-cf-virginia-men-human-trafficking-1112-2-001-photo.html (2019)
- https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdva/pr/martinsburg-west-virginia-man-convicted-sex-trafficking-distributing-fatal-dose (2019)