Gaithersburg is a city in Montgomery County, Maryland, with a population of about 60,000 (it is the fourth-largest incorporated city in the state, behind Baltimore, Frederick, and Rockville). Local prostitution activity generates numerous complaints to police, and these complaints play a role in police devoting the resources to prostitution operations. Sex trafficking is also known to occur in the city. For example, in Federal agents arrested a 43-year-old Gaithersburg woman, her mother, two siblings and two men on charges of running a prostitution/sex trafficking ring that operated out of several Montgomery County apartments. Charges included conspiring to transport illegal immigrants across state lines to engage in prostitution, and of conspiring to harbor undocumented fugitives. The defendants operated brothels out of nine apartments in Montgomery County, six of which were located in Gaithersburg (the other three were in Germantown, Wheaton, and Hyattsville). The trafficking ring first came to the attention of local police in 1996, and Federal investigators began looking into the network in 2003. Most of the sexually exploited females were young Mexican women, but some were from Central America and a few were minors. In a related federal case, one of the traffickers drove a van to cities in New York and New Jersey to pick up women, who were then brought to Maryland to work at their brothels. More recently, a Gaitherburg man was arrested in 2015 for recruiting women from France to engage in prostitution locally. In 2016, the Gaithersburg Police Department’s Street Crimes Unit served a search warrant on a Spa on Main Street. Officers, with court paperwork in hand, found $18,000 in cash stashed in various suitcases, purses, coats, and bags. There was a ledger with client names and phone numbers, which a suspect attempted to flush down the toilet during the raid.
To address problems associated with prostitution and sex trafficking in the city, police have employed tactics that focus on deterring and punishing sex buyers. For example, in October, 1998 numerous arrests were made during the investigation of a prostitution ring in Gaithersburg. Three men were arrested and charged with engaging in prostitution as customers. They later worked out deals with the State’s Attorney’s Office and police to have their charges eventually dismissed by doing community service and paying fines, according to the Assistant State’s Attorney Office and Montgomery County police. For almost three years, a Gaithersburg woman ran a prostitution ring under the guise of an escort service, Jacquelyn’s Playmates, out of a Gaithersburg townhouse. The service had up to 500 clients and employed more than 50 people as prostitutes, according to the Montgomery County Police Department. When police arrested the woman the prior March, they obtained a ledger listing transactions from 1995 to March 1998. Police later investigated, arrested, and charged five men whose names appeared in the ledger. Three of these men who each went court and three accepted pre-trial diversion agreements pending completion of 24 hours of community service and payment of fines set at $150 each, according to the State’s Attorney’s Office.
In March, 2020, the Montgomery County Police’s Vice and Intelligence Unit established a sting outside of a massage parlor located along Bureau Drive in Gaithersburg. The undercover operation came in response to citizen tips of prostitution activity at the business. At least one man was arrested and charged with soliciting prostitution, and his identity disclosed in news releases.
- Montgomery County Police Department
- State’s Attorney’s Office
Arrests of Sex Buyers, Shaming, Community Service:
- http://www.gazette.net/gazette_archive/Arrests continue in Gaithersburg prostitution ring/gaithersburg/news (1998)
- https://wjla.com/news/local/police-decorated-montgomery-co-fire-rescue-captain-nabbed-during-massage-parlor-sting (2021)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- http://www.washingtonpost.com/content/article/2005/11/16/ (2005)
- https://www.washingtonpost.com/prostitution-arrests-in-gaithersburg/2012 (2012)
- https://www.nbcwashington.com/Germantown-Man-Arrested-for-Operating-Prostitution-and-Human-Trafficking-Business (2015)
- http://wjla.com/news/crime/officials-3-women-arrested-in-massage-prostitution-sting (2016)
- https://www.wusa9.com/massage-parlor-owners-charged-with-prostitution-trafficking-in-gaithersburg (2018)
- https://bethesdamagazine.com/bethesda-beat/news/rockville-spa-owner-arrested-for-operating-prostitution-ring/ (2019)
- https://www.facebook.com/woman-arrested-for-running-prostitution-ring-out-of-massage-parlor-in-montgomery (2019)