Laurel, MD

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

Laurel is a city of approximately 26,000 residents, located in northern Prince George’s County in Maryland. Like their neighbors in North Laurel, the Laurel Police Department has been faced with the challenge of a growing commercial sex market in recent years, including sex trafficking and the assault of prostituted women. For example, in 2010 arrests were made for sex trafficking, and in 2015, a man was sentenced to over eight years in prison for robbery, abduction and sexual assault of two women engaged in prostitution.

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. To deter sex buyers, police routinely conduct street-level reverse stings using an undercover female officer as a decoy. When sex buyers attempt to solicit sex from the officer, they are promptly arrested. To discourage the men from reoffending, police may release the names and photos of arrestees to the local media.  In their efforts to address the underlying demand driving commercial sex, the Laurel Police Department frequently coordinates its efforts with the Maryland State Police, officers from neighboring city police forces, and agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

In early February 2016, Howard County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested eight male sex buyers at a Laurel hotel after they responded to a decoy web advertisement suggesting prostitution. The web sting was conducted as part of the National Johns Suppression Initiative, an initiative led by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. The arrestees’ names were publicized in local media outlets.  An operation in January, 2019 resulted in the arrest of eight sex buyers.

During a web-based reverse sting in 2017 with the arrest occurring at a Laurel hotel, Howard County Police posted ads on websites used by sex buyers with a direct message:

“LOOKING FOR A GIRL? POLICE ARE LOOKING FOR YOU. HCPD has zero tolerance for Prostitution and Human Trafficking. If you commit these crimes, you WILL be arrested, prosecuted and your personal information released to the media.”

Key Partners

  • Laurel Police Department
  • Maryland State Police
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • Howard County Sheriff’s Office

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Public Education, IT-Based Tactic: Online Ads Intended to Deter Sex Buyers

Background on Local Sex Trafficking, Prostitution:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Maryland
Type City
Population 25735
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