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Gloucester County, New Jersey has a population of approximately 304,000 and is located about 20 miles southeast of Philadelphia and 50 miles northwest of Atlantic City. It is part of the Camden, New Jersey metropolitan area. Noteworthy communities within the county include Mantua Township and Greenwich Township. Prostitution activity has been well-documented within the county, and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking. Local sex trafficking cases have also involved child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often referred to in state laws as “child pornography). For example, in July, 2012, two individuals were indicted on prostitution charges by a Gloucester County grand jury. In September, 2013, six women were arrested and charged with engaging in prostitution after a multi-agency sting revealed several employees of a local strip club were allegedly “acting as prostitutes.” According to local officials, the arrests were part of a six-month investigation into the club on Crown Point Road by members of several Gloucester County police departments, supported by the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office. The West Deptford Police Department had been receiving numerous anonymous tips about employees of the club offering sex acts in exchange for money before beginning the investigation. The department, along with the assistance of the Paulsboro and Woolwich Police Departments, sent undercover officers into the club who reported they were repeatedly propositioned by employees or dancers from the club, who offered to perform various sex acts in exchange for money. The sting was performed by numerous police departments including Paulsboro, Woolwich and Westville police departments.
In November, 2016, the Attorney General’s Office announced that a Gloucester County woman was indicted by a state grand jury on first-degree charges for allegedly recruiting a 16-year-old girl to engage in prostitution (i.e., child sex trafficking) with her in South Jersey and soliciting clients on Backpage.com. She was indicted on first-degree charges of conspiracy, human trafficking, promoting prostitution and promoting organized street crime, as well as second-degree charges of facilitating human trafficking and endangering the welfare of a child. The offender had met the 16-year-old runaway in early 2016 and invited the girl to move in with her at a hotel in Cherry Hill. It is alleged that the woman was “working as a prostitute” and she urged the girl to meet men with her and engage in paid sexual abuse so that they could make money. The woman allegedly had the girl place advertisements with photos of herself on Backpage.com and another website to solicit clients. She allegedly told the girl to advertise the two of them together so that they could make more money, and asked the victim to provide photos of herself in her underwear, so she could send the photos to prospective clients (i.e., child sexual abusers). The child was allegedly sexually assaulted by up to four men in a single day.
In July, 2017, three men were arrested in a human trafficking investigation involving a 17-year-old victim, the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office announced. One was arrested on 13 charges related to trafficking and prostitution (i.e., sex trafficking) of a runaway teen while she was in a Gibbstown motel. Two others implicated in the case were arrested earlier that month. Charges include first-degree human trafficking, second-degree promoting child prostitution, first-degree endangering the welfare of a child, multiple conspiracy counts (conspiracy to commit human trafficking, conspiracy to commit human trafficking by force, conspiracy to commit promoting prostitution of a juvenile), manufacturing “child pornography” (child sexual abuse materials, or CSAM) and endangering the welfare of a child. In announcing the arrests, prosecutors said the pair forced the victim, who had been reported missing as a runaway, into prostitution via backpage.com. They were staying at a motel in Gibbstown at the time. The victim told investigators that she was forced to engage in acts of paid sexual abuse with multiple assailants and then had to turn over the money she was paid to her alleged traffickers. All three defendants were convicted and sentenced in 2018.
Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies. Demand reduction tactics used within the county include the arrest of sex buyers and the public disclosure of their identities. For example, in August, 2012, a Gloucester County corrections officer was arrested while in uniform, and was later suspended from duty without pay. He was charged with soliciting prostitution, according to Mantua Township Police after being arrested on Quail Court in the Snowy Owl development “as a result of a police investigation.” The suspect had worked for the county’s Department of Corrections since 2004. He was arrested while in uniform during his shift.
In September, 2016, a Greenwich Township police officer was charged with “soliciting a prostitute” while on duty and witness tampering in Greenwich Township. According to a police complaint, in April 2016 the officer committed misconduct “by engaging in sexual acts with a prostitute while on duty” in exchange for money. Fearing an investigation into the incident, the officer attempted to pressure the victim to falsely recant an initial report to law enforcement via a telephone conversation, the complaint reportedly stated. The officer turned himself in to the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office and was released after posting $35,000 bail. He was suspended without pay from the department where he had served as an officer for 13 years. In August, 2017, the man was sentenced to a year of probation and was ordered to forfeit his job, according to the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office. While he originally faced charges of obstruction and soliciting prostitution, the offender pleaded only to a fourth-degree charge of lewdness. The encounter occurred at a recreation area where the pair could have been seen by children, prompting the lewdness charge.
- Mantua Township Police Department
- Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office
- Greenwich Township Police Department
Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure, Employment Loss:
- https://www.nj.com/gloucester county corrections officer charged with soliciting prostitution suspended from duty (2013)
- https://6abc.com/new-jersey-soliciting-prostitution-witness-tampering (2016)
- https://www.nj.com/gloucester-county/police_officer_charged_reportedly_solicited_a_pros (2016)
- https://www.nj.com/gloucester-county/cop_accused_of_on-duty_sex_with_hooker_pleads (2016)
- https://nj1015.com/nj-cop-tried-to-cover-up-sex-with-prostitute-while-on-duty-prosecutor-says/ (2016)
Background on Prostitution, Sex Trafficking, Related CSAM and Other Crimes in the Area:
- https://patch.com/prostitution-charges-top-gloucester-county-indictments (2012)
- https://www.nj.com/6 arrested prostitution charges sting strip club (2013)
- https://patch.com/women-arrested-in-prostitution-bust-at-strip-club (2013)
- https://patch.com/six-arrested-prostitution-bust-club (2013)
- https://www.courierpostonline.com/2-face-human-trafficking-charges/ (2014)
- https://6abc.com/greenwich-township-NJ-soliciting-prostitution-witness-tampering (2016)
- https://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases16/ (2016)
- https://www.gloucestercitynews.net/arrest-two-in-human-trafficking-prostitution-case (2017)
- https://thenjsentinel.com/two-arrested- human-trafficking prostitution (2017)
- https://www.nj.com/third man charged with forcing runaway 17 into pro (2017)
- https://www.nj.com/gloucester countypolice arrest three prostitution (2017)
- https://www.nj.com/gloucester county/trio sentenced prison forcing teen prost (2018)
- https://www.southjerseyobserver.com/tag/gloucester-county-prosecutor/ (2022)
- https://www.northjersey.com/new-jersey-human-trafficking-invisible-issues (2022)
- https://www.nj.gov/education/safety/sandp/cwss/ht/ (2022)
- https://www.fox29.com/police-human-trafficking-ring-busted-in-new-jersey-victims-smuggled-from-mexico (2022)
- https://www.trentonian.com/human-trafficking-is-a-major-problem-in-new-jersey (2023)
- https://www.tapinto.net/nj-anti-trafficking-organization-wins-national-liberator-award (2023)