Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in Greenville County, in the city of Greenville, surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of the county. 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 commercial sex market is child sex trafficking.
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. Greenville County has conducted periodic reverse stings for years, although we do not know when they first began. Identities of arrestees – including names, ages, and photos – are routinely released to the media. Many of the arrests occur in the I-85 and Pelham Road area, known locally as the “strip” for street prostitution. Through 2012 we had acquired information about 12 separate reverse stings that resulted in the arrest of 114 sex buyers, but more of these operations have been conducted up to that point, and afterward. More recent operations have leveraged the internet to conduct reverse stings focusing on those seeking commercial sex with adults, as well as with trafficked children. For example, In October 2018, police made 21 arrests in an operation targeting child predators and “johns” in Greenville County in a four-day reverse sting called Operation Intercept. Greenville County Sheriff’s deputies posed as a 14-year-old child and initiated online chats in order to target and identify those looking for sex with the children, and made 10 arrests. They also posed as adults, and arrested 11 johns. The Greenville Police Department hosted the operation, assisted by police departments from Spartanburg, Richland, York, Mauldin and Simpsonville, as well as the Florence County Sheriff’s Office.
- Greenville County Sheriff’s Office
- Greenville Police Department
- Greenville County Detention Center
- Spartanburg Police Department
- Richland Police Department
- York Police Department
- Mauldin Police Department
- Simpsonville Police Department
- Florence County Sheriff’s Offices.
- Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- Street-Level Reverse Stings:
- “17 Arrested in Reverse Prostitution Sting,” CBS/WSPA-TV 7, September 22 2008.
- “15 Prostitution Arrests Made in Greenville County Sting,” CBS/WSPA-TV 7, August 10 2012.
- “Greenville Deputies Arrest 15 in Prostitution Sting,” Greer Citizen, August 16 2012.
- “Deputies: 25 Arrested in 1-Day Prostitution Sting in Greenville Co.”, FOX/WHNS-TV 21, January 6 2014.
- “Sheriff: 3-Day Prostitution Sting Results in 27 Arrests,” Greenville News, July 30 2014.
- Web-Based Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- “J.L. Mann Teacher Charged with Misdemeanor Solicitation of Prostitution,” Greenville Examiner, January 3 2014.
- “25 Arrested during One-Day Prostitution Sting, Authorities Say,” Greenville News, January 7 2014.
- “20 Arrested in Greenville County in ‘Johns’ Sting,” Greenville News, February 11 2015.
- “15 Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” Greenville News, November 24 2015.
- “Greenville County Prostitution Sting Leads to Arrests,” Greenville News, November 24 2015.
- https://www.wspa.com/news/live-operation-intercept-news-conference (2018)
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “7 Charged in Brothel Operation,” Spartanburg Herald-Journal, August 6 1991.
- “Sheriff: Not Enough Manpower, Harsh Penalties to Curb Prostitution,” CBS/WSPA-TV 7, April 2 2008.
- “Greenville Sheriff’s Arrest 28 People in Prostitution Sting,” CBS/WSPA-TV 7, February 27 2009.
- “Liberty Woman Charged in ‘Escort’ Crackdown,” Easley Progress, May 20 2009.
- “Greenville County Trying to Crack Down on Illegal Escorts,” CBS/WSPA-TV 7, August 4 2009.
- “More than 50 Arrested in Greenville County Prostitution Roundup,” CBS/WSPA-TV 7, October 5 2010.