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La Plata is a town of under 10,000 residents in southern Maryland, and is the county seat of Charles County. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in other areas of the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. In April 2018, a woman was arrested on prostitution charges at a La Plata hotel after assaulting a man she had sex with in exchange for a place to stay; she resisted arrest and assaulted officers as well when they tried to take her in. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking.
Though we know of no proactive sting operations targeting sex buyers that have been conducted in the city, sex buyers have been arrested through investigations involving crimes against real victims. For example, the Maryland Department of State Police reported that in September 2013 they were notified by Virginia State Police about a missing juvenile who had been located at a motel in La Plata. Troopers found the minor and discovered she had been forced to perform sexual acts in exchange for crack cocaine. Nearby, troopers located the suspect, who had crack cocaine in his possession, and arrested him. The man had two outstanding warrants, one in Maryland and one in Texas. Maryland State Police (MSP) Criminal Enforcement Division investigators charged him with human trafficking, second degree rape, and second degree assault.
Some cases of the local sex trade have involved child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often called “child pornography” in state criminal laws). For example, in November 2019, the Mathews County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia reported a man they were looking for had been arrested as a fugitive in La Plata and faced charges of human trafficking, manufacturing CSAM, and solicitation of the prostitution of a minor under 16-years-old when he was extradited back to Virginia. The man was reported to have given a teenage girl money in exchange for sex, then suggested she take naked pictures of herself in exchange for money. An investigation uncovered other graphic materials involving minors and unidentified victims. The man has since been extradited back to Virginia to face additional charges. His identity was released to the press.
In June 2021, a La Plata man was arrested by Maryland State Police at his home following a tip from New York State Police that said the man had tried to get a child to send him naked photos of themselves, and later tried to solicit sexual acts. The man was charged with six counts of possession of child pornography (i.e., CSAM), six counts of production of child pornography, one count of displaying obscene matter to a minor, one count of sexual solicitation of a minor, and one count of tampering with physical evidence. His identity was released to the press. MSP were assisted in the investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, the FBI Maryland Child Exploitation Task Force, and the Charles County Sheriff’s Office.
Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:
- Maryland State Police Annual Report (2013)
- Maryland State Police Annual Report (2018)
- https://www.kvue.com/mathews-county-sheriffs-office-man-wanted-for-human-trafficking-making-child-porn (2019)
- https://www.cbsnews.com/baltimore/news/charles-county-man-arrested-on-sexual-solicitation-and-child-porn-charges (2021)
- https://southernmarylandchronicle.com/la-plata-man-arrested-for-sexual-solicitation-of-a-minor-child-pornography (2021)
- https://www.fox5dc.com/charles-county-man-arrested-for-child-porn-soliciting-sex-from-minor-online-authorities-say (2021)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- https://www.somdnews.com/la-plata-woman-charged-with-prostitution-assault (2018)
- https://smnewsnet.com/warning-graphic-content-police-arrest-la-plata-woman-for-prostitution-and-assault (2018)
- https://www.thebaynet.com/convicted-la-plata-sex-offender-pleads-guilty-to-possession-of-child-pornography (2021)