Jacksonville is a city of approximately 1.3 million residents, located in northeast Florida. It is the state’s most populous city, and includes the semi-autonomous communities of Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach and Baldwin.
Prostitution and commercial sex trafficking have been identified as substantial problems in the city for decades, and have been linked to related crimes included targeted assaults and homicides of both sex sellers and buyers. City law enforcement also conduct frequent surveillance checks of websites known for prostitution activity. As a result, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office officers have at times uncovered intricate sex trafficking networks operating out of Jacksonville. In one such operation in 2009, JSO officers and FBI agents apprehended a man operating a child sex trafficking ring after they saw postings advertising sexual services on Craigslist.
In their efforts to reduce prostitution, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has implemented an aggressive and multi-faceted approach to address the issue. In 1983, the JSO was among the first in the nation to employ the use of street-level reverse stings to target and arrest johns in addition to prostituted women. City officers now routinely employ such tactics, at times netting upwards of 20 men in a single sting operation. Police release the names and photos of arrestees to the media.
In May, 2018 a Jacksonville man was arrested for trying to purchase sex with a 13-year-old middle school student. The 30 year old man was charged with attempted statutory rape, attempted statutory sex offense, attempted first degree kidnapping, attempted indecent liberties with a minor, felony solicitation of a child under 16 by computer for the purpose to commit a sex act and appear, and felony fleeing to elude arrest with a motor vehicle. He was jailed on $3 million bond. The incident began when the man approached the girl at West Craven Middle school through Instagram. The student started receiving some correspondence from a male she didn’t know, progressed until the man tried to meet with the girl. The student told her mother, who reported the incident to the school’s Student Resource Officer, who then contacted the investigations division. Police corresponded with the suspect on the girl’s phone, and as the conversation progressed it became more and more sexual, and he began to try to get her to meet him. The officer set up a meeting at a restaurant in Vanceboro, where deputies moved in to arrest him. They later seized his home computers and the investigation continued. The suspect was found to have a pending charge for the very same thing: he was previously charged August 4, 2017 by the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office with statutory rape of a child less than the age of 15; two counts of indecent liberties with a child; solicit prostitution of a minor; second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor for an alleged sexual relationship with a then 13-year-old girl in Wilmington. He is also accused of soliciting child pornography from the girl.
Street-Level Reverse Stings and Shaming:
- “200 Men Arrested in Crackdown on Prostitution in Jacksonville”, Miami Herald, October 6 1983.
- “Sting Operation Nabs 10 Escort Customers”, Florida Times-Union, December 12 1997.
- “Arrest May Affect AccuStaff Split”, Florida Times-Union, July 31 1998.
- “Police Report 10/31/98”, Florida Times-Union, October 31 1998.
- “Police Briefing”, Florida Times-Union, April 3 2000.
- “Police Sweeps Clean Up Bad Areas”, Florida Times-Union, November 18 2000.
- “Police Briefing”, Florida Times-Union, December 20 2000.
- “Cops Plus Operation Nabs 189”, Florida Times-Union, July 21 2001.
- “‘Escort’ Ad Leads to Arrest of 22 Men”, Florida Times-Union, October 9 2004.
- “Readers Weigh in on Paper’s Handling of Police Sting Story”, Florida Times-Union, October 31 2004.
- “Sheriff Responds on Sting”, Florida Times-Union, November 3 2004.
- “Minister Charged in Prostitution Sting”, First Coast News, April 28 2005.
- “Sheriff Disciplines 2 Officers from Prostitution Sting”, Florida Times-Union, October 12 2005.
- “POLICE BRIEFS: 3 Men Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, Florida Times-Union, December 24 2005.
- “Inside a JSO Prostitution Sting”, First Coast News, April 24 2006.
- “Police Arrest 9 Men in Prostitution Sting”, Florida Times-Union, July 5 2006.
- “It Doesn’t Come in Pink”, Florida Times-Union, October 7 2007.
- “Pastor Arrested for Prostitution”, First Coast News, September 19 2008.
- “Nease High Girls Soccer Coach Fired After Prostitution Arrest”, Florida Times-Union, March 26 2009.
- “SOUTHSIDE COPS: Nineteen Arrested in Prostitution Sting on Philips Highways”, Florida Times-Union, September 10 2009.
- “Jaguars Player Arrested for Soliciting Prostitute”, WJXT-TV 4, October 14 2011.
- “Officer Resigns in the Wake of Prostitution Charges”, CBS/WTEV-TV 47, November 20 2012.
- “Jacksonville Cop Charged with Soliciting Prostitution Resigns”, Florida Times-Union, November 21 2012.
- “St. Johns Firefighter of 31 Years Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, Jacksonville Sun, April 26 2013.
Web-Based Reverse Stings:
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 33 Men”, Florida Times-Union, August 10 2007.
- “DOD Police Officer Among 12 Arrested in Online Prostitution Sting”, First Coast News, February 29 2008.
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Federal Agents Break Up Sex Ring”, Florida Times-Union, September 26 2007.
- “Man Faces Life for Sex Trafficking of Minors”, First Coast News, March 8 2009.
- “Child Sex Trafficker Ian Sean Gordon Sentenced to Life in Prison”, First Coast News, January 10 2011.
- “Man Convicted of Sex Trafficking in Jacksonville, Three Other States”, First Coast News, February 17 2011.
- “Sex Trafficker Sentenced to More than 26 Years”, First Coast News, June 14 2011.
- “Human Trafficking: Runaways Are a Target”, First Coast News, February 6 2012.
- “Feds: Man Recruited Foster Care Girls for Prostitution”, WJXT-TV 4, July 6 2012.
- “Man Pleads Guilty to Commercial Sex Trafficking”, WJXT-TV 4, August 30 2012.
- “Alleged Smuggler, Sex Trafficker Denied Bond,” WJXT-TV 4, June 25 2015.
- https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/jacksonville/suspected-pimp-arrested-in-human-trafficking-crackdown (2019)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Sophisticated Web of Prostitution,” NBC/WTLV-TV 12, November 15 2006.
- https://www.jacksonville.com/article/20090227/news/801238948 (2009)
- https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/jacksonville/police-4-arrested-after-complaints-of-prostitution (2019)
Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Serial Rapist on the Loose; Police Say He Has Attacked at Least 9 Women, Likely More,” Florida Times-Union, March 2 2007.
- “DNA Links Man, Attack, Cops Say; The Inmate Is Suspected in Sex Crimes,” Florida Times-Union, March 14 2007.
- “Prosecutor Says Man Stabbed Jacksonville Prostitute to Death in 1995,” Florida Times-Union, May 20 2011.
- “Jury Opts for Life Sentence in 1995 Stabbing; Michael Chatman Was Found Guilty of Murdering a Prostitute via DNA Match,” Florida Times-Union, June 1 2011.
- “Prostitute Who Planned Deadly Jacksonville Robbery Testifies about Torturous Beating; She Spoke out against One of 4 Other Defendants,” Florida Times-Union, May 9 2012.
- “Victim Testifies as Jacksonville Brothers Face Charges of Rape, Arson, Attempted Murder,” Florida Times-Union, August 18 2015.
- “Authorities Continue to Investigate Home of Duval County Inmate Where Human Remains Found Thursday,” Florida Times-Union, February 12 2016.