Kelso, WA

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

Kelso is a city of approximately 13,000 residents and is the county seat of Cowlitz County, WA. Kelso is part of the Longview, WA metropolitan statistical area. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been documented in the city and in surrounding areas. Among the more serious issues associated with the area’s commercial sex market are child sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation. For example, in 2018, during unrelated incidents, Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested two Longview men accused of sending sexually explicit messages to minors through Facebook. Both men were charged with communicating with a minor for immoral purposes and booked into the Cowlitz County Jail. One of the offenders was additionally charged with soliciting a minor for lewd touching.

Efforts to reduce demand for commercial sex and sex trafficking in the city have been documented. For example, in 2016, a local group known as the “Punisher Squad,” was formed and focused on disrupting the demand for commercial sex and commercial sexual exploitation of children in the area. The group began creating false social media accounts and posing as young girls to communicate with sexual predators. When a subject would appear at a meeting place to have a sexual encounter, the “Punisher Squad” would confront them. A typical reverse sting operation consists of communicating with potential sex buyers and/or sexual exploiters, meeting the suspected offender in a predetermined location, confronting them of their crimes and having the suspected offender report their crimes to the police. According to reports, at least three of these neighborhood led reverse sting operations have resulted in arrests.

State Washington
Type City
Population 12880
Comments are closed.