|IT Based Tactics||✓|
Glendale is a city of about 250,000 residents within Maricopa County, Arizona, located northwest of Phoenix. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented problems in Glendale, and throughout the county, for decades. Among the tactics used to address the have been those intended to combat the consumer-level demand that drives all sex trafficking. For example, in 2003, a countywide reverse sting by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office resulted in the arrest of several sex buyers in Glendale. In June 2014, a reversal intercepted 24 male sex buyers, and a February 2016 reversal arrested 18 men. The identities of the arrestees, as well as the logistical details of the operations, were not released to the public after the 2003 reverse sting, but have been after the more recent operations. For example, in September 2022, the law enforcement agencies made 21 arrests around the Valley for child sex crimes and human trafficking. Operation “Back to Skool” was a Valley-wide initiative in which undercover detectives placed ads on websites known to be common for suspects seeking illegal sex acts. The 21 arrested men arrested ranged from 23 to 62 years old, and their identities were disclosed in some news reports. The Scottsdale, Surprise, Goodyear, Peoria, and Glendale police departments, as well as Homeland Security, U.S. Marshals and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, teamed up to conduct the web-based reverse sting.
A large scale sex trafficking operation was conducted in the greater Phoenix area from January 30 through February 11, 2023, a time period with numerous large events occurring locally, including the Super Bowl, Waste Management Phoenix Open, the Barrett-Jackson classic car auction, and others. Officials announced that 48 felony arrests and 300 misdemeanor arrests were made, including 120 people who were sex buyers. During the operation, over 100 officers from over 20 local, state, and federal agencies targeted adults trying to pay for sex with minors, online predators, and street prostitution in areas including Phoenix, Glendale, Mesa, Scottsdale and Tempe.
IT-based tactics have been incorporated into the multi-site demand reduction operations coordinated by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. Since 2011, the Cook County (IL) Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) has been coordinating periodic reverse sting operations occurring simultaneously in multiple cities throughout the United States. The collaborative effort was initially called the “National Day of John Arrests,” and then in 2015 was renamed National Johns Suppression Initiative (NJSI). The coalition of agencies that participate in these coordinated enforcement efforts grew from eight to more than 100. The 19 NJSI operations from 2011 through 2021 have involved the collaboration of over 140 law enforcement agencies, and have collectively produced the arrests of more than 10,000 sex buyers. Since 2019, some of the NJSI operations have incorporated the use of decoy internet ads that connected to an AI bot, created by Childsafe.ai. The bot interacts with sex buyers to the point where it sends a deterrence message warning of the legal and social dangers of prostitution and sex trafficking.
Initially, the Cook County Sheriff’s Police and eight other agencies utilized the bot, including the principle police departments and sheriff’s offices in Boston, MA; Des Moines, WA; McHenry County, IL; New York, NY; Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; Tarrant County, TX; and Upper Merion Township, PA. Across several subsequent NJSI operations, 18 cities and counties used the Childsafe.ai bots to combat demand.
The childsafe bot and other similar products can continuously scrape data or monitor “signal” from open source electronic communications, analyze the raw input, and flag messages as probably depicting a commercial sex offer or transaction. They also engage buyers in some form of interaction designed to deter individuals from attempting to purchase sex, at the present “point of purchase” moment as well as in the future. This approach seeks to disrupt (and ultimately collapse) commercial sex markets by reducing demand.
- Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office
- Phoenix Police Department
- Glendale Police Department
- Goodyear Police Department
- Mesa Police Department
- Arizona Department of Public Safety
- Tempe Police Department
- Arizona Attorney General’s Office
- Chandler Police Department
- Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center
- Peoria Police Department
- Homeland Security Investigations
- Surprise Police Department
- DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking
- Scottsdale Police Department
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “Prostitution Sting Nabs 72; Deputies Arrest Women, Clients Countywide”, Arizona Republic, November 14 2003.
- “Glendale Police: Officer Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, Arizona Republic, June 20 2014.
- “Phoenix Police Department Lieutenant Caught in Prostitution Sting”, FOX/KSAZ-TV 10, June 22 2014.
- “FBI Nabs 3, Rescues 4 in Prostitution Sting”, Yuma Sun, June 24 2014.
- “Super Bowl Sex Trafficking Sting Nets over 500 Sex Buyers, 30 Pimps,” Press Release, Cook County Sheriff’s Office, February 9 2016.
Web-Based Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure:
- https://ktar.com/police-in-surprise-make-21-arrests-in-child-sex-trafficking-sting (2022)
- https://yourvalley.net/surprise-police-arrest-21-in-child-sex-trafficking-operation (2022)
- https://www.abc15.com/region-phoenix-metro/hundreds-of-arrests-made-in-prostitution-trafficking-operation-this-month (2023)
- https://www.fox10phoenix.com/nearly-350-arrests-made-during-human-trafficking-sex-crimes-operation-in-phoenix-area (2023)
- https://www.azfamily.com/hundreds-arrested-prostitution-human-trafficking-sting-around-metro-phoenix (2023)
- https://www.cookcountysheriff.org/national-sex-trafficking-sting-nets-1000-sex-buyers-pimpstraffickers (2017)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “PD: Phoenix Man Arrested for Soliciting Prostitute”, CBS/KPHO-TV 5, June 22 2012.
- “FBI: Phoenix Pimp Busted in Nationwide Child Prostitution Sting”, CBS/KPHO-TV 5, June 29 2012.
- “2 Arrested, Suspected of Child Prostitution”, Arizona Republic, July 30 2012.
- “Inquiries Reveal Shadowy Valley Porn Industry”, Arizona Republic, November 27 2012.
- “PD: AZ Girl, 15, Forced into Prostitution by Online Friend”, CBS/KPHO-TV 5, June 21 2013.
- “Man Sentenced to 40 Years for Sex Trafficking,” Detroit Free Press, May 22 2015.
- “Arrests Made in Phoenix Human Trafficking Case with Scottsdale Teen Reported Missing,” ABC/KNXV-TV 15, October 23 2015.
- https://www.hstoday.us/ice-hsi-participates-in-multi-agency-human-trafficking-operation (2022)
- https://ktar.com/glendale-pd-to-work-with-valley-agencies-for-influx-of-human-trafficking-for-super-bowl (2022)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/news/sex-sting-went-way-too-far (2004)
- “Undercover Prostitute Sting Leads to Nearly 40 Arrests”, Arizona Republic, September 18 2012.
- “51 Arrested as Drug Probe Leads to Prostitution Ring”, CBS/KPHO-TV 5, September 19 2012.
- “Arpaio’s Detectives Uncover East Valley Prostitution Ring”, Press Release, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, September 19 2012.