Kanawha County, WV

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

Kanawha County, West Virginia has a population of about 178,000 and is located in the central part of the state. It includes the city of Charleston, which serves as the county seat and the state capital. Prostitution activity has been well-documented within the county, 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 is sex trafficking.

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. Reverse stings have been occurring in Kanawha County since at least 2007.  During a 12-day reverse sting operation that year, 39 men were arrested for solicitation.  Although the penalty for a first offense for solicitation in Kanawha County can be up to six months in jail and up to a $100 fine, the penalties increase, both in terms of jail time and fines assessed, for each additional solicitation offense with which a sex buyer is charged.

Some local arrests of sex buyers are the result of investigating allegations against real victims as opposed to the product of sting operations using police decoys. For example, in February, 2023, a convicted sex offender who was currently serving 50 years of supervised release was arrested was charged with third-offense prostitution on after a woman reported him for stalking her for paid sex. A criminal complaint says that a woman reported that a man in a red truck followed her and tried to get her into his vehicle in order to exchange money for sex. Responding officers said that “a well-known prostitute” claimed that a man had been following her in his truck throughout the night. Detectives identified a 62-year-old suspect, whom they arrested for repeat-offense prostitution. A background check found that he had been charged five times before for prostitution, and was a registered sex offender. The man arrested and held at the South Central Regional Jail on a $5,000 cash-only bond.

Key Partners

  • Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office
  • Charleston Police Department

Key Sources

Reverse Stings:

  • “Kanawha prostitution sting nets multiple arrests”.  WOWKTV.com. September 27, 2007.

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Prostitution, Sex Trafficking in the Area:

State West Virginia
Type County
Population 181014
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