Greenville, SC

Tactics Used

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

Greenville is a city of 58,000 in northwestern North Carolina.  Prostitution and child sex trafficking are known to occur in the city.  For example, in 2012, a man was arrested after police investigators concluded he served as a pimp for two teenage girls.  His arrest resulted following a prostitution sting targeting sex sellers that led to recovery of the two prostituted girls, ages 16 and 13.  The pimp (or more accurately, the child sex trafficker) took the girls to a place where Greenville Police Department detectives set up the sting, according to the arrest warrant. The girls were intercepted after offering sex to undercover officers in exchange for money.  The trafficker was charged with three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, two counts of pimp/aid or abetting prostitution, and two counts of promoting prostitution of a minor.  He was held at the Greenville County Detention Center on a $30,000 bond.

To combat demand for commercial sex, the GPD has conducted street-level reverse stings using undercover officers on a routine basis since at least 2005 (and maybe before).  There have also been web-based reverse stings that have included the city and reached throughout Greenville County.  The arrested sex buyers may have their names and other identifying details reported in the news.  Some of the reversals have been large-scale, spanning up to three days and resulting in the arrest of up to 48 johns. In August 2014, for example, GPD officers conducted a four-day reverse stings that resulted in the arrest of 33 sex buyers. All of the men’s names and arrest photos were released to the public.

Web-based reverse stings have also been conducted in Greenville, targeting predators buying sex with children as well as those buying sex with adults. For example, in September 2018, a joint undercover and online sting operation in Greenville netted the arrests of 10 child sex predators and 11 men who solicited prostitutes.  The “Operation Intercept” sting was led by Greenville police under the direction of the Attorney General’s Office, and collaborating agencies included the Greenville, Richland, Spartanburg, York and Florence County sheriff’s offices along with the Mauldin and Simpsonville police departments.  From Sept. 11 to Sept 14, undercover officers posed as prostitutes to identify individuals illegally soliciting sex, and another team initiated online chats posing as a 14-year-old child to identify those looking for sex with children. A Captain with the  Greenville County Sheriff’s Office said that as soon as they posted online, the response was immediate.

State laws and local ordinances allow for vehicles to be seized and impounded in Greenville if they are used in commission of a crime, including prostitution.

John School & Public Education

In 2013, a faith-based organization (Switch 42:16) that seeks to combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation developed a john school program in cooperation with the Greenville Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office. The goal of the school is to offer a place where men who are charged with soliciting sex can come and learn about the many effects of their actions – such as legal ramifications upon themselves, STD’s, drug and alcohol abuse the women suffer, human trafficking, and effects on the community in which they are buying sex.  The organization also employs “Demand Teams” consisting of men who teach other men and boys about the negative consequences of sex trafficking, prostitution, stripping, and pornography.  The first session of the john school was scheduled to occur in mid-November 2013.

Key Partners

  • Greenville Police Department
  • Greenville County Sheriff’s Office
    • Internet Crimes Against Children Unit
  • Switch 42:16

Key Sources

State South Carolina
Type City
Population 58754
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