Jefferson County, KY

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


Jefferson County is located in northern Kentucky, and contains Louisville,  the largest city in the state, with approximately 600,000 of the county’s 770,000 residents.  Prostitution is a problem in the county, and is known by federal and state investigators to be on domestic sex trafficking circuits. On at least one occasion, federal prosecutors discovered a human trafficking and prostitution ring operating in Louisville with ties to several other cities including Knoxville, Morristown, Johnson City, and Nashville. Prostitution-related homicides and serial murders have also occurred in the community. Commercial sex- and drug-related arrests have also at times overlapped, as confirmed in an August 2011 arrest of a couple for the sex trafficking of a minor in exchange for heroin.

Prostitution has become increasingly visible in the city in recent years, compelling the Louisville Metro Police Department to incorporate several tactics to identify and arrest sex buyers. To this end, the LMPD has conducted a series of successful web-based reverse stings (by posting decoy advertisements on sites like Craigslist) and street-level reverse stings (using an undercover female officer as a street-prostitution decoy), at times netting upwards of 20 johns in a single operation. Although the LMPD has not released the names and identities of offenders to the media, police continue to emphasize the importance of community vigilance in discussions with local news outlets. Following a street-level reversal in November 2014, for example, a LMPD representative commented:

“I want the Johns or the customers to know that if you come to Old Louisville to try to pick up a prostitute, there’s a good chance it may be a police officer and you’re going to go to jail for that. If we make it so that the Johns are scared to come into a particular area to try and purchase a prostitute, then we have also served our mission.”

In May 2018, during Kentucky Derby week, a web-based reverse sting in Louisville targeted those who sought to buy sex with children. Undercover officers posted ads online, an undercover officer posed as an underage girl and arranged to engage in sexual acts in exchange for money with the suspects individually. Nearly 400 emails, texts or phone calls were received in response to those two ads, and police had communication with 265 individuals. Nine men made arrangements to meet at a hotel on Hurstbourne and Bluegrass parkways, and upon arrival each was arrested and then charged with human trafficking.

In February, 2019, LMPD conducted a sting during Louisville’s annual farm machinery show. The SVU posted an ad of a female undercover officer on different social media sites (including Call Escorts, Facebook and Instagram). Within an hour, they received 200 calls, and told “clients” to meet them at an undisclosed hotel. LMPD arresting 17 people, ages 19 to 74.

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings:

Web-Based Reverse Stings and Shaming:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Kentucky
Type County
Population 771158
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