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Lake County has approximately 700,000 residents and is located in the northeastern corner of Illinois. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been known to occur in the county; for example, in November 2012 one of three men involved in a Lake County human trafficking investigation pleaded guilty. The Lake County Sheriff’s Department has conducted several street-level reverse stings in and around the county’s strip clubs in order to combat consumer-level demand for commercial sex. In November 2001, one such operation sent a female officer undercover as a decoy in one of the nightclub’s parking lots. In a matter of a few hours, seven sex buyers were arrested for attempting to solicit sex from the undercover officer. Their names and other identifying information were not released to the media.
In July 2017, eighteen Lake County men were arrested during an undercover investigation conducted by the Lake County Sheriff’s Gang Task Force, Gurnee Police Department, and Waukegan Police Department after allegedly offering money for sex acts. The operation was a local part of the “National Johns Suppression Initiative,” a nationwide coalition of federal and local law enforcement agencies specifically targeting demand for commercial sex. All of the men were arrested for solicitation of a sexual act, a class A misdemeanor, and transported to the Lake County Jail. Local police used an online classified service to post ads and then arranged to meet sex buyers at a location in Gurnee. The sex buyers’ names, ages, addresses, and the area in which they were arrested were all published in news releases.
In June 2018, a former North Chicago police officer pleaded guilty to a charge of patronizing a prostitute in Lake County Circuit Court and was sentenced to 12 months probation. Charges against the former officer resulted from a joint investigation conducted by the North Chicago Police Department and investigators from the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office. Because he pleaded guilty to a felony, the defendant was no longer eligible to work as a police officer. He had initially been charged with official misconduct, patronizing a prostitute, and solicitation of a sexual act for alleged incidents involving two different women while on duty earlier in 2017, according to prosecutors. Under the plea deal, in exchange for the guilty plea for patronizing, the remaining charges were dismissed. Conditions of his sentence and probation include 75 hours of public service work, no contact with persons involved in the incident, and a $750 fine as well as court costs.
In August 2018, a reverse sting conducted by the Lake County Sheriff’s Gang Task Force resulting in the arrest of eight men, all charged with solicitation of a sex act. Authorities said that among those arrested was a man charged with child endangerment for having his 5-year-old child in the back seat of his vehicle while he solicited an undercover officer. The efforts were part of a nationwide crackdown on sex-trafficking that resulted in the arrest of at least 473 sex buyers by law enforcement agencies across 12 states. A statement by the Cook County Sheriff said that the sex trafficking industry perpetuated violence, exploitation, mental illness, and drug addiction for victims, and that the National Johns Suppression Initiative was designed to target and reduce the demand for purchased sex.
In February 2020, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office reported they had participated in another nationwide human trafficking suppression operation that resulted in the arrest of 14 men who offered money for sex at a Gurnee hotel. The office’s Special Investigations Group conducted the operation over multiple days using classified advertising websites that are regularly used for prostitution. Sex buyers were arrested when they arrived at the hotel and offered money to undercover detectives for sex acts. Each was charged with one count of solicitation of a sexual act, a class A misdemeanor. Their names, ages, hometowns, and arrest photos were released to the press. Following his arrest in the sting operation, one man was fired from his assistant coaching job in Antioch.
Web-Based Reverse Stings:
- “13 Men Arrested for Soliciting Sex Online in Undercover Sting,” Lake County News Sun, August 9 2014.
- “19 People Are Arrested in Nationwide Prostitution Sting,” Arlington Heights Daily Herald, February 4 2015.
- “14 Johns Arrested in Lake County Prostitution Sting,” Chicago Sun-Times, September 12 2015.
- http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/crime/ct-lns-sheriff-arrests-johns-lake-county (2016)
- http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/crime/ct-lns-north-chicago-misconduct-arraignment (2017)
- https://www.cbsnews.com/chicago/news/lake-county-sheriffs-gang-task-force-arrest-9-men-for-soliciting-sex (2017)
- https://www.shawlocal.com/johnsburg-lakemoor-men-among-18-arrested-in-prostitution-sting (2017)
- http://www.dailyherald.com/news/former-north-chicago-cop-pleads-guilty-to-prostitution-charge (2018)
- http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/news/ct-lns-north-chicago-cop-prostitution (2018)
- http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/crime/ct-lns-north-chicago-cop-indicted (2018)
- http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/news/ct-lns-blotter-national-sex-sting (2018)
- http://www.news-gazette.com/news/dozens-arrested-sex-trafficking-stings (2018)
- https://patch.com/illinois/lakeforest/lake-bluff-man-13-others-arrested-prostitution-sting (2019)
- https://www.audacy.com/wbbm780/galleries/photos-14-arrested-in-sex-trafficking-sting-at-gurnee-area-hotel (2020)
- https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/ct-lns-blotter-lake-sting (2020)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Two Accused of Sex Trafficking in Lake County,” Arlington Heights Daily Herald, April 6 2013.
- “Man Testifies against Brother in Lake County Prostitution Case,” Arlington Heights Daily Herald, June 29 2013.
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Dancers Sting Operation Nets Prostitution Charges,” Barrington Courier-Review, December 19 1996.
- “Strip Club Owner Decries Prostitution Convictions,” Lake Zurich Courier, July 9 1998.
- “Lap Dance Challenge Fails,” Waukegan News Sun, September 23 2000.
- “Judge Declares Mistrial in Prostitution Case,” Waukegan News Sun, December 14 2001.
- “Lake County in 60 Seconds; Prostitution Sting,” Arlington Heights Daily Herald, May 9 2008.
- “Arraignment in Libertyville Prostitution Case Postponed,” Lake County News Sun, January 23 2013.
- “Spa Worker Charged with Prostitution,” Lake County News-Sun, December 18 2015.