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.
Street-Level Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- “Probation Given in Prostitution Cases”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, May 30 1997.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 19 Arrests”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, November 2 1997.
- “Eight Men Charged in Prostitution Sting”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, March 19 1999.
- “City Police Charge 6 Men in Prostitution Sting”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, June 12 1999.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets Six Arrests”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, October 8 1999.
- “Man Charged with Solicitation in Sting”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, May 1 2000.
- “Police Say Sex Stings Starting”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, July 25 2000.
- “City Charges 11 in Sweep”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, September 7 2000.
- “Ex-Pastor Pleads to Solicitation”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, October 3 2000.
- “Second Man Pleads to Solicitation”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, October 5 2000.
- “Men Charged in Prostitution Sting”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, February 11 2001.
- “School Principal Facing Charges in Prostitution Sting”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, March 2 2001.
- “Police Charge Six in Prostitution Sting”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, May 21 2001.
- “School Principal Arrested for Soliciting Prostitute”, Gettysburg Times, July 23 2001.
- “Hagerstown Hookers, a Targeted Tradition?”, Washington Times, August 13 2001.
- “December Prostitution Stings Lead to 15 Arrests in Hagerstown”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, January 3 2002.
- “Three Charged Friday in Prostitution Sting”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, March 28 2002.
- “Police Arrest 3 People Following Argument”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, April 22 2002.
- “Four Arrested in City Prostitution Sting”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, April 29 2002.
- “Men Charged in Connection with Undercover Prostitution Sting”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, March 22 2006.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets Arrests in City”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, July 12 2006.
- “Police Step Up Efforts to Catch Solicitors”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, July 20 2006.
- “Prostitution Sting in City”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, July 20 2006.
- “Blast from the Past: Week of March 16, 1983”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, March 19 2008.
- “Police Arrest 6 in Prostitution Sting in Hagerstown,” Hagerstown Herald-Mail, September 5 2015.
- https://www.heraldmailmedia.com/prostitution-sting/ (2017)
- http://www.localdvm.com/news/6-arrested-after-prostitution-sting-in-hagerstown (2017)
- http://www.journal-news.net/news/local-news/2018/06/local-man-hit-with-prostitution-charge/ (2018)
- Web-Based Reverse Stings:
- https://www.heraldmailmedia.com/instant/two-men-charged-in-hagerstown-prostitution-sting/ (2018)
- https://www.heraldmailmedia.com/news/local/washington-county-residents-nabbed-in-prostitution-sting (2019)
- https://www.wfmd.com/2020/08/21/12-people-arrested-in-hagerstown-for-sex-trafficking-prostitution/ (2020)
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Hagerstown Girl Held in Vice Probe”, Baltimore Sun, August 27 1937.
- “11 Held As White Slavers; FBI Makes Arrests Linked to Houses in Maryland”, New York Times, December 2 1947.
- “Ten Indicted in Connection with White Slave Ring”, Williamson Daily News, March 23 1948.
- “Arrest Made in Prostitution and Human Trafficking; Investigation on Prostitution and Human Trafficking Leads to Arrest,” NBC/WHAG-TV 4, February 18 2016.
- http://www.localdvm.com/news/maryland/sex-trafficking-bust-in-hagerstown (2018)
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Jury Reports on Vice Probe in Hagerstown”, Baltimore Sun, May 22 1948.
- “Prostitution on the Increase in Hagerstown”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, August 22 1997.
- “Residents Want Prostitutes Rousted”, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, August 27 1997.
- “Hagerstown Announces Prostitution Crackdown”, Baltimore Sun, July 25 2006.
- https://www.localdvm.com/news/maryland/four-arrested-for-prostitution-in-undercover-operation (2019)
- Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area: