Graves County, KY

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Graves County is a rural area in Kentucky with a population of less than 40,000.  Prostitution in the county has been identified as problematic and connected to drug trafficking and sex crimes, such as rape.  Police have fielded complaints about prostitution occurring in the county.  In 2012, police decided to target consumer-level demand for commercial sex. In a web-based reverse sting, eight men were caught and arrested in a two- day operation.  The “Catch a John” operation was conducted by the Graves County Sheriff’s Department to highlight sex buyers as perpetrators and to stop prostitution and sex trafficking in western Kentucky. The eight men were from the local area as well as from other states. Investigators began the operation on October 18, 2012, by posting an online decoy ad. Immediately they began receiving phone calls from men asking for sex in exchange for money. An undercover female detective spoke with the men and arranged to meet them at a local hotel. The men were taken into custody and then lodged in the Graves County Jail.  The photos, names, ages, and hometowns of the arrested sex buyers were released to the media and carried by local news outlets. The reverse sting was part of a broader initiative to reduce drug and sex crimes in the area.

Key Partners

  • Graves County Sheriff’s Department
State Kentucky
Type County
Population 37719
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