LaSalle County is located in the North Central region of Illinois, approximately 100 miles from Chicago. It has an estimated population of about 111,000 and its county seat and largest city is Ottawa. 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. 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. 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 on Progress Boulevard and a criminal investigation was initiated to determine if prostitution was happening at the spa. The spa had violated regulations by staying open too late, having employees live at the business and having employees not licensed. Officers shut the spa down after several hours of surveillance and talking to past customers.
In May, 2019, the LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office announced that nine men have been charged with solicitation after an investigation into prostitution and drugs in the area. The investigation began after receiving complaints from Illinois Valley citizens regarding prostitution. During the investigation, law enforcement personnel spoke to several female drug users who advised them about the connection between addicts and prostitution. Ottawa and Peru authorities targeted individuals allegedly soliciting another individual for sexual acts. After gathering statements and reviewing evidence, nine men from three counties aged 18-66 were charged with one count of misdemeanor solicitation. 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. The nine men included the mayor of Sandwich (who subsequently resigned), a Putnam County attorney and a Peru hospital executive, and all were charged after an investigation into prostitution in Lasalle County. The Lasalle County Sheriff’s Office and the Tri-County Drug Enforcement Narcotics Team were assisted in the investigation by the Ottawa and Peru police departments.
- Lasalle County Sheriff’s Office
- Tri-County Drug Enforcement Narcotics Team
- Ottawa Police Department
- Peru Police Department
Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- https://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/lasalle-police-department-no-sex-just-kissing-the-story-is-falling-apart/ (2016)
- https://patch.com/illinois/yorkville/sandwich-mayor-nailed-possible-prostitution-sting (2019)
- https://www.daily-chronicle.com/sandwich-mayor-among-those-charged-in-prostitution-sting (2019)
- http://www.wspynews.com/sandwich-mayor-rick-olson-charged-with-solicitation-of-a-sexual (2019)
- https://www.walls102.com/solicitation-sting-nabs-nine/ (2019)
- https://www.pjstar.com/putnam-county-public-defender-charged-in-prostitution-sting (2019)
- http://www.wspynews.com/sandwich-mayor-others-allegedly-offered-money-to-informant-in (2019)
- https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/sandwich-mayor-quits-prostitution-charge/ (2019)
- https://www.putnamcountyrecord.com/2019/05/12/putnam-county-attorney-among-nine-in-lasalle-county-prostitution-bust (2019)
Background on Local Prostitution:
- http://www.lcbcradio.com/wlpo/potential-prostitution-violations-leads-to-spa-closure-in-peru (2018)
- http://www.newstrib.com/news/putnam-county-lawyer-waits-to-learn-from-other-prostitution-sting (2019)