Jackson County, MO

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

Jackson County is located in west central Missouri, and contains the Missouri portion of Kansas City, Independence, and many smaller towns and unincorporated areas. It is the second most populous county in the state, with roughly 717,000 residents. Sex Trafficking and prostitution are prevalent and well-documented problems in the county.

In an effort to reduce the demand for prostitution that drives all sex trafficking and attracts other crime, police have conducted both street-level and web-based reverse stings. In May 2022, 32 people were arrested in a massive child exploitation operation conducted across Missouri and Kansas. Authorities with the Department of Homeland Security said 15 of those arrests came from a sting conducted in Independence and Kansas City, Jackson, Platte, and Clay counties in Missouri, and Bourbon County in Kansas. Multiple law enforcement agencies in the Wichita area teamed up for Operation Blue Ghost, which resulted in 17 arrests for crimes including aggravated human trafficking, promoting the sale of sex, and purchasing sex acts. Authorities in the Kansas City area collaborated to arrest an additional 15 individuals. According to a release from the Midwest division of the DHS, partners in and around Independence, Kansas City, Clay County, and Platte County in Missouri, and in Bourbon County, Kansas targeted adults willing to travel for the purpose of sexually exploiting a child. Of the 15 arrested in the Kansas City-area sting, authorities said crimes included intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, enticement of a minor, sex trafficking of a child, furnishing pornography to minors, sexual exploitation of a minor, promoting prostitution, aggravated human trafficking, sex trafficking, felony assault on a law enforcement officer, attempted statutory sodomy, and attempted second-degree statutory rape.

Some of the men arrested in the county are sent to the Veronica’s Voice “john school” program in Kansas City. For example, in April 2009, 13 male sex buyers were arrested in a web-based reverse sting operation at an undisclosed structure in the area of 35th and Noland Road to 40th and Noland. In April 2021, a new multifaceted initiative to stop sex trafficking in the historic northeast part of Kansas City, Missouri, encourages residents and business owners to “Report a John,” with John referring to someone soliciting or purchasing sex.

“What you have to do is focus on the demand because, without the demand, there is no supply. No one is in the sex trafficking trade if there is not a John.” (Scott Wagner, the director of Northeast Alliance Together (NEAT))

NEAT collaborated on the initiative with the Jackson County, Missouri prosecutor’s office, Missouri Attorney General’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, and other groups, like Christine’s Place and Relentless Pursuit Outreach and Recovery. The new strategy debuted in April 2020 when a billboard went up at Independence and Cypress avenues. The billboard said, “This community does not tolerate buying prostitution.” The billboards and multiple smaller signs posted along Independence Avenue encouraged people to call 816-234-5220 to report the license plate numbers of sex buyers. The Jackson County prosecutor’s office would then send a letter to the registered address for that license plate explaining the car was suspected of being used to solicit sex. It’s not an accusation or a warrant, simply a warning, according to the initiative leaders. The initiative also called for publishing mugshots of people arrested for soliciting sex on a new website and in the Northeast News (a printed newspaper). People found guilty of soliciting prostitution would be offered the chance to attend “John School” through Veronica’s Voice. While the initiative targeted male sex buyers, it also offered victims of sex trafficking a pathway to escape by connecting them with Christine’s Place, a new organization designed to help sexually exploited people transition out.

Key Partners

State Missouri
Type County
Population 716862
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