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Glendale is a city in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, and has a population of roughly 13,000 residents. It is situated directly north of Milwaukee, near Lake Michigan and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city and the Milwaukee Metro region. 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 prostitution market is sex trafficking. According to the FBI, the Milwaukee area has ranked among the worst in the country for the number of exploited minors discovered during human trafficking stings.
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 Glendale Police Department has collaborated with other agencies to conduct stings. In March 2019, a two-pronged operation resulted in the arrest of eleven prostituted persons and seven sex buyers in stings led by the Glendale Police Department. The first operation targeted escorts who had posted ads online. Police responded to those ads, and then arranged to meet at a Glendale hotel. Three men and eight women came to the hotel. They all received municipal citations for escorting without a license. Two of the female “escorts” were in fact 17-year-old sex trafficking victims, and the other six women and three men were ticketed for escorting without a license. Later in March 2019, Glendale police conducted a reverse sting targeting the men who patronize prostituted women. Glendale police posted ads on a website and arranged meetings with the men who responded. Seven men traveled to the hotel room, where they were met by police. The men all received a municipal citation for patronizing prostitution.
In 2019, Glendale police said the goal of such sting operations was to find escorts and then determine whether they were victims of sex trafficking. Police provided them with phone numbers for women’s shelters and other organizations that might be able to help them. The sexually exploited persons each received a roughly $1,000 ticket, and were then encouraged to go to municipal court to talk to the city attorney about options to reduce that fine, which might occur if they agreed to participate in programs or receive services. Glendale police have been able to arrest traffickers during sting operations, and in other the cases, they have developed information and evidence that helps them build a case against sex traffickers. Glendale police work with Milwaukee police on bigger trafficking cases.
In April 2021, a man was arrested following an investigation by Glendale police and subsequently charged with 10 counts of possession of child pornography (i.e., child sexual abuse materials) and one count of intent to distribute psilocin. The investigation followed an online sting operation where he allegedly offered to “pay a higher rate” to sexually abuse a child. The man was arrested at his job in Brookfield following an undercover investigation conducted by the Glendale Police Department during which the man allegedly exchanged text messages with an undercover officer about an ad for prostitution. His identity was disclosed in news reports. In the texts, police said the suspect asked for a girl between the ages of 4 and 12 and discussed drugging a child with narcotics. According to a criminal complaint, police served a search warrant at the man’s residence, where they located a portable hard drive. Upon review, the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department found 10 images of child pornography (i.e., CSAM). A preliminary review of the suspect’s electronic devices revealed between 5,000 to 10,000 images of CSAM.
- Glendale Police Department
- Milwaukee Police Department
- Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office
- Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office
- Wisconsin Department of Justice
Web-Based Reverse Stings:
- https://www.jsonline.com/northshore/glendale-prostitution-sting-nets-11-escorts-7-johns (2019)
- https://www.jsonline.com/brookfield-man-downloaded-huge-amount-child-porn-police (2021)
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Region:
- http://archive.jsonline.com/news/crime/Traps Prostitution Milwaukees North Side (2009)
- http://www.city-data.com/forum/milwaukee/prostitution-my-street (2011)
- https://urbanmilwaukee.com/pressrelease/the-scourge-of-out-of-control-prostitution-drugs (2017)
- https://www.wisn.com/police-respond-to-social-media-post-of-girls-being-snatched-at-bayshore (2017)
- https://www.tmj4.com/glendale-police-say-no-reports-of-human-trafficking-at-bayshore-towne-center (2017)