Hampden County, MA

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Hampden County is located in central Massachusetts and has a population of about 467,000. Its county seat and largest city is Springfield.  Multiple cases of prostitution and sex trafficking have been documented in the community, and have included the trafficking of children, the production of child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often referred to in criminal codes as “child pornography”), and drug offenses. For example, in June, 2012, a Monson resident was arrested for prostitution in nearby Springfield. In March, 2015, an investigation was conducted about a Craigslist ad allegedly offering sexual services in Monson. An undercover officer working with the Eastern Hampden County Drug Task Force answered the ad and met with a 22-year-old woman who had placed the ads, and found that a number of Monson residents as well as individuals from outside the local area met with her in response to the ads. she was arrested after meeting with an undercover officer at her residence and negotiated sexual conduct for a fee. At the time of the arrest, the young woman’s parents were home and there was heroin in the house. The woman was charged with engaging in sexual conduct for a fee and possession of heroin.

Prostituted women have also been rapes, assaulted, and murdered, and at least one serial killer has preyed upon prostituted women in the county. In May, 2018, a man was arrested after fleeing from police, smashing into a cruiser, then yelling: “There’s a body in the trunk” during his arrest, authorities said at the time. A woman who was in the car told officers the man had been holding her against her will at his home, beat her with a copper pipe and a hammer, and choked her with a homemade garrote. He was arrested and tried, and during the proceeding, admitted he was a serial predator who trolled Springfield’s “sketchiest neighborhoods for sex workers and women addicted to drugs.” He plied his victims with offers to “get high,” took them to his home, and routinely smoked crack cocaine before he assaulted them. Several of his victims survived, and three didn’t. Police recovered the bodies of three women, all of whom struggled with drug addiction and two had been reported missing weeks or months earlier. After the man’s arrest, his mother called 911 to report a “putrid smell” and a swell of flies in the basement of her home, where she had been living there with the murderer and his 2-year-old daughter. The man struck an agreement with prosecutors to plead to 39 criminal counts just days before he was set for trial; he was sentenced to three consecutive life terms in prison in 2021.

Among the responses to these and other crimes arising from the local sex trade have been the use of demand reduction tactics.  For example, in July, 2017, two people were arrested for human trafficking of a minor. The Hampden County District Attorney’s Office said a 39-year-old woman living on Palmer Road in Monson was arranging for a child in her early teens to engage in sexual acts for a fee with a 71-year-old male resident of Ware. The woman facilitated a number of meetings between the child and the adult by establishing contact and providing transportation, and would collect a portion of the proceeds that the child was receiving. She was arrested on charges including human trafficking, inducing a minor for prostitution, deriving support from child prostitution, exhibiting a child in a sexual act, and distributing material depicting a child in a sexual act (CSAM, often referred to in legal codes as “child pornography”). The man was also arrested and charged with statutory rape and abuse of a child, post/exhibit a child in the nude, and possession of child pornography.

Reverse stings have been conducted in several Hampden County communities over the years, and as early as 2011 the Hampden County Sheriff’s Office had considered implementing a john school program in the Hampden County House of Correction.  It is unclear whether a john school was ever implemented there.

In November 2017, city and county officials announced the formation of a county-wide effort to combat prostitution and human trafficking by targeting those who seek sex for money rather than those who supply it. Officials pledged that that the latest effort to curb prostitution will be different from those prior in two ways. The first is it will focus on demand – the men who come to the city seeking to buy sex – rather than men and women who supply it. The second is the enforcement will be continuous, and not something done occasionally like prior anti-prostitution sweeps. The new approach, named the Human Trafficking Enforcement and Education Initiative, was announced in a press conference at the South End Community Center in Springfield by the Hampden County District Attorney, Hampden County Sheriff, and Springfield Mayor. The prosecution will be reserved for the customers, and anyone arrested in Springfield for soliciting prostitution will have their name and photo publicized in the press.

Key Partners

  • Hampden County Sheriff’s Office
  • Springfield Police Department
  • Community Approach to Reduce Demand (CARD)
  • Hampden County District Attorney’s Office
  • Palmer District Court
  • Ware Police Department
  • Eastern Hampden County Drug Task Force
State Massachusetts
Type County
Population 466647
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