LaSalle County, IL

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

LaSalle County is located in the North Central region of Illinois, approximately 100 miles from Chicago, IL, and has an estimated population of  approximately 109,000 residents. Its county seat and largest city is Ottawa, IL. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the communities and unincorporated areas of the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. For example, in February 2018, a spa in Peru was shut down due to allegations of prostitution and city ordinance violations. Members of the Peru Police Department and other agencies shut down the massage spa in addition to initiating a criminal investigation to determine if prostitution was occurring at the spa. The spa had violated regulations by staying open too late, having employees live at the business, and employing unlicensed individuals. Officers shut the spa down after several hours of surveillance and talking to prior customers.

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. In May 2019, the LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office announced that nine men, including the Mayor of Sandwich, had been arrested and charged with solicitation of a sexual act after an investigation into prostitution and drugs in the area. The two-fold investigation began after receiving complaints from Illinois Valley citizens regarding prostitution. The first phase of the investigation was conducted in 2016, in which law enforcement personnel spoke to several female drug users who advised them about the connection between those with addictions and prostitution. The Ottawa Police Department and Peru Police Department focused on targeting individuals allegedly soliciting another individual for sexual acts. According to the La Salle County Sheriff, the second phase of the investigation was conducted in 2019 and focused on targeting men seeking to engage in commercial sex,

“This investigation was aimed at deterring both parties involved in prostitution and highlight the dangers prostitutes and ‘johns’ face when they engage in such activity. This undercover investigation focused on the link between prostitution and the use of illegal drugs in this area and the crimes that are directly related to it, such as robbery, battery, homicide, etc.”

After gathering statements and reviewing evidence, nine male sex buyers, aged 18-66, were charged with one count of misdemeanor solicitation of a sexual act. One of the men was additionally charged with misdemeanor charges of attempted solicitation and battery. All of those charged were issued court dates with a notice to appear. Participating agencies included the The LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office and Tri-DENT Drug Task Force, with assistance from the Ottawa Police Department and the Peru Police Department. All nine men received notifications regarding their court date through the mail. According to reports, among the nine men arrested were the Former Mayor of Sandwich, a Putnam County attorney, and a Peru hospital executive. The week following the mayor’s arrest, he submitted his letter of resignation. The sex buyer had been the Mayor of Sandwich since 2013 and was Police Chief prior to serving as mayor. In July 2019, the Former Sandwich Mayor pleaded guilty to a Class A misdemeanor Solicitation of a Sexual Act charge resulting in a fine of $750 and one year court-supervised probation.

Loss of employment is also a consequence of sex buying in the county. For example, the LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office was under investigation by the Illinois State Police after allegations regarding an officer’s potential misconduct were disclosed. According to the allegations, an officer with the LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office allegedly paid a prostituted woman $100, gave her rides to various places, and frequented while on duty. In defense, the officer claimed to be using the site to arrest prostituted women, although he was never granted permission to conduct prostitution operations from the County Sheriff, nor did he disclose his intentions to conduct prostitution operations using As a result of the ISP investigation, the officer was suspended for two days by the LaSalle Chief of Police. In a statement outlining his suspension, the Chief of Police stated that he believed a two-day suspension to be a minor consequence in comparison to the allegations and evidence against the officer in question,

“As we discussed, the internal investigation disclosed sufficient evidence to clearly prove the allegations of the complaints. As I indicated in our discussions, while I consider most of the infractions to be relatively minor in nature, their cumulative sum proved to be much more serious. As a result, based upon you actions, admissions and your position as a supervisor, I have no choice but to issue you a two day suspension. The suspension dates shall be your scheduled work days on 03-31-16 and 04-05-16.”

State Illinois
Type County
Population 108965
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