Hagerstown, MD

Tactics Used

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

Hagerstown is a city of approximately 40,000 residents, located in Washington County, Maryland, about 20 miles north of Martinsburg, West Virginia. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity are well documented in this city and surrounding areas. For example, in June 2018 a man was sentenced to spend over a decade behind bars for sex trafficking of a minor. According to his plea agreement, in 2015, he transported a 15-year-old and 17-year-old girl from Pennsylvania to Maryland. He made each girl engage in sexual acts in hotels and kept the money they made. On June 16, 2015, Maryland State Police received a call from the 15-year-old victim’s father. He said his daughter was being held against her will at a hotel in Hagerstown. Troopers responded to the hotel, and approached the man and inquired about the missing girl.

Among the tactics used to address such problems are those focusing on consumer level demand. For example, the Hagerstown Police Department and nearby law enforcement agencies have conducted street-level reverse stings since at least 1983. The names, ages, and addresses of those arrested are often reported in the news, with details about the operations. Punishments vary for men soliciting sex. If convicted, defendants could face up to one year in jail, a $500 fine or both, according to Maryland state code, and the penalties increase depending on whether the individual is accused of human trafficking or involves offenses against a minor. Typical sanctions include one year of probation, plus a fine of $200 to $300.  Some of the men have been ordered to perform 40 hours of community service, in addition to fines and probation.

In June and August of 2019, the Hagerstown Police Department conducted two undercover operations that targeted human trafficking, street-level prostitution and internet-advertised prostitution. Officers targeted people involved in prostitution and solicitation for prostitution.  Seventeen people were arrested, and their identities disclosed.  The investigation was supported, in part, by funds provided by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention.

In August 2020 another 12 individuals were arrested in Hagerstown during a prostitution and sex trafficking bust. This particular operation was a joint effort completed by the Hagerstown Police Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland State Police and FBI. Reports on the incident also claim that the sting was set up in response to complaints by locals of heavy prostitution in the Hagerstown area.

Key Partners

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings with Shaming:

State Maryland
Type City
Population 39640
Location
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