The government seat of Jefferson County is Birmingham, Alabama. Prostitution activity has been well-documented within the city, and throughout Jefferson County. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market are sex trafficking, child endangerment, and violence committed against people involved in these transactions. For example, in February, 2019, a joint investigation into prostitution and human trafficking in Homewood led to the arrests of seven people and the rescue of a juvenile girl. The Homewood Police Department’s Vice and Narcotics Unit had carried out an operation targeting prostitution in the city, in collaboration with Vestavia Hills police and the FBI.
Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies in their strategy for prevention and response. To combat the array of problems stemming from commercial sex, local law enforcement agencies have conducted reverse stings. Within Birmingham, prostitution sweeps have arrested up to 130 men in reverse stings using undercover female police officers. The first known reverse sting in the city was conducted in 1987. In 2007, a shaming campaign was conducted in which pictures of convicted prostituted persons and their customers are broadcast on a local access cable channel. In April 2010, the Birmingham Police Department announced that eight suspects had been charged after a BPD Vice Unit reverse sting in the 5000 block of 1st Avenue North. In March 2012 the BPD conducted an undercover operation in the Woodlawn area of north Birmingham, in the area of 1st Avenue North between 41st Street and 80th Street, and arrested 35 people. In April 2012, a prostitution sting resulted in four arrests throughout the Birmingham area. In 2014, the BPD arrested seven suspects on prostitution-related charges in a bust at the VIP Spa in Roebuck.
There have also been many multi-agency operations in the other communities and uncorporated areas of Jefferson County. For example, in May, 2017, Alabama Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force conducted Operation Standing Guard in Jefferson, Shelby, and St. Clair counties. That three-day operation resulted in six warrants being served, five individuals being arrested, and four child victims being identified. The operations target individuals who communicate online with minors and travel to meet them for the purpose of having sex, individuals who are willing to exploit minors by purchasing sex with them and individuals who produce, possess and/or distribute child pornography. The Moody Police Department was part of a sting operation involving several law-enforcement agencies that helped get two suspected child predators off the streets.
In November, 2017, two Jefferson County men were arrested during a five-day operation aimed at child predators. ALEA’s Alabama Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force announced charges against two men arrested during Operation Standing Guard II, which occurred in the Birmingham area. During the initiative, ICAC seized 100 electronic devices, carried out eight search warrants, identified 22 children that were being sexually exploited through social media, and initiated two sexual assault cases. In addition, Alabama ICAC Task Force collaborated with the Georgia ICAC Task Force to conduct Operation Hidden Guardian. The Georgia ICAC Task Force arrested 21 suspects, with seven cases involving Alabama citizens who traveled to Columbus, Ga., with the expectation of having sex with a child.
In July, 2019, over a dozen people were arrested and charged in a prostitution and human trafficking operation led by the Homewood Police Department’s vice and narcotics unit. The operation was part of the FBI’s months long effort, Operation Independence Day, to combat human trafficking. Multiple arrest were made at hotels on Lakeshore Parkway and Oxmoor Road. Five men were arrested, and authorities described them as pimps and johns.
- ALEA’s SVU and Tactical Unit
- ALEA’s Alabama Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force
- Alabama’s Attorney General’s Office
- Homeland Security Investigations
- Walker County Sheriff’s Office
- Birmingham Police Department
- Bessemer Police Department
- Homewood Police Department
- Moody Police Department
- Pelham Police Department
- Gardendale Police Department
- Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office
- Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Office
- University of Alabama Police Department’s Joint Electronic Crimes Task Force
Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- “Police Arrest 138 in Sting Operation”, Gadsden Times, August 28 1987.
- “News Briefs; Metro; 20 Men Are Arrested on Charges of Soliciting”, Birmingham News, March 19 1994.
- “Attorney Says Baptist Preacher Entered His Plea to Avoid Trial”, Tuscaloosa News, August 6 1994.
- “Police Decoys Hit Street to Combat Prostitution”, Birmingham News, March 22 1998.
- “Crime; Birmingham; Police Target Prostitution”, Birmingham News, August 20 2009.
- “Thirteen Men Charged with Solicitation for Prostitution in Birmingham”, Birmingham News, October 7 2010.
- “Vice Operation Arrest”, Birmingham News, October 14 2010.
- “Undercover Prostitution Sting Leads to Arrest of 8 Men in Birmingham”, Birmingham News, November 2 2010.
- “Birmingham Hookers Go for $5 and Up, Police Say”, Birmingham News, November 8 2012.
- http://www.wbrc.com/story/12381903/birmingham-police-arrest-several-suspects-in-prostitution-sting (2010)
- http://www.walb.com/story/20043848/police-arrest-35-in-prostitution-sting-in-woodlawn (2012)
- http://abc3340.com/archive/2nd-prostitution-sting-in-birmingham-area (2012)
- http://www.wtvm.com/story/24768513/7-arrested-in-roebuck-area-prostitution-bust (2014)
- https://www.al.com/news/birmingham/2017/11/child_predator_operations_land.html (2017)
- https://www.annistonstar.com/the_st_clair_times/moody-police-assist-in-multi-agency-sting-targeting-child-predators (2017)
- https://www.wbrc.com/2019/02/12/arrested-prostitution-sting-homewood/ (2019)
- https://www.cbs42.com/news/homewood-police-arrest-14-in-human-trafficking-prostitution-case/ (2019)
- https://www.al.com/14-arrested-on-prostitution-charges-in-homewood-in-fbi-human-trafficking-operation.html (2019)
- https://www.wvtm13.com/article/multiple-people-arrested-in-huma-trafficking-sting (2019)
- “‘Shame Campaign’ Pitched to Expose Prostitute Patrons”, Birmingham News, August 14 2007.
- “Birmingham Prostitutes, Clients Will Be Shamed on TV in Council’s Plan”, Birmingham News, October 2 2007.
- “Car Tags Seen as Prostitute Solution”, Birmingham News, July 26 1995.
Background on Local Sex Trafficking and Prostitution:
- “Sold into Prostitution, Woman Leaps to Safety”, Gadsden Times, June 11 1980.
- “Crime Ring Traced out of Birmingham”, Tuscaloosa News, November 9 1980.
- “Man Draws 17 1/2 Years in Prison”, Gadsden Times, December 16 1983.
- “Louisiana Man Charged with Transporting Girls from Atlanta to Birmingham for Prostitution”, Birmingham News, March 15 2010.
- “Birmingham Massage Parlor Owner, Employee Indicted on Human Trafficking, Prostitution Charges”, Birmingham News, September 29 2010.
- “Birmingham Man Charged with Attempting to Lure 14-Year-Old into Prostitution”, Birmingham News, October 27 2010.
- “Two People Arrested for Trafficking Children for Sex in Birmingham”, CBS/WIAT-TV 42, July 29 2013.
- “BPD Conducts Search after Prostitution, Human Trafficking Complaints”, CBS/WIAT-TV 42, February 19 2014.
- “Some Massage Parlors a Haven for Human Trafficking”, CBS/WIAT-TV 42, February 26 2014.
- “Man Arrested over Weekend for Human Trafficking”, CBS/WIAT-TV 42, June 24 2014.
- “Forced Prostitution, Heroin Distribution Alleged in Shelby County Arrest”, Birmingham News, August 20 2014.
- “Atlanta Man Sentenced in Sex Trafficking Case”, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 13 2014.
- https://www.cbs42.com/news/homewood-police-arrest-two-for-human-trafficking-prositution/ (2015)
- https://www.al.com/news/birmingham/ (2015)
- https://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2016/07/homewood_police_target_prostit.html (2016)
- https://www.al.com/news/birmingham/2019/02/7-arrested-juvenile-rescued-during-prostitution-sting-in-homewood.html (2019)
- https://www.wbrc.com/2019/02/12/arrested-prostitution-sting-homewood/ (2019)
Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Confessed Serial Killer Charged in Birmingham Death”, Birmingham News, July 26 2007.
- “2 Charged with Capital Murder in ’07 Slaying”, Birmingham News, July 23 2009.
- “New Trial Set for Suspected Serial Killer Bruce Mendenhall”, Evansville Courier-Press, April 24 2012.
- “Birmingham’s Latest Murder Victim Killed while Looking for a Prostitute, Police Say”, Birmingham News, January 17 2013.
- “Birmingham Prostitute and Accomplice Sentenced in Georgia Man’s 2013 Shooting Death”, Birmingham News, June 12 2014.