Lawrence, MA

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

Lawrence is a city of approximately 80,000 residents, located in Essex County, in Northeastern Massachusetts. In recent decades it has had among lowest median household income in the state. Prostitution has presented persistent and serious problems in the city for decades, including documented cases of sex trafficking, child endangerment, and the rape and homicide of prostituted women and sex trafficked girls in the city. For example, in June 2013, 29 people were arrested in a “Quality of Life” crime sting in downtown Lawrence, the majority of whom were charged with prostitution or soliciting prostitution. The operation pinpointed the Broadway and South Union Street areas due to past arrests, officer’s observations and citizen’s complaints. In addition to prostitution, the operation produced arrests for for drug and firearm offenses, receiving stolen property and disorderly conduct. In July 2021, a man was arrested for raping young girls and coercing them to allow his sexual abuse in exchange for food, shelter, alcohol and drugs.  The 49-year-old man was charged with 19 criminal counts, including rape, aggravated rape, human trafficking, involuntary manslaughter, and providing illegal drugs. His purported victims include three women and seven girls under the age of 18. He was held without bail at Middleton Jail. A mechanic and drug dealer, the man preyed on vulnerable young girls, giving them alcohol, drugs, gifts, and food, then raping them, demanding nude photos (thus producing child sexual abuse materials (CSAM)), and more.  On May 20, 2019 a 13-year-old girl has spent time time at the man’s apartment, and that night the man and another girl dumped the victim’s body at Lawrence General Hospital and left. The girl was pronounced dead and an autopsy listed her cause of death as acute intoxication from a combination of fentanyl, cocaine, an antihistamine, and ethanol.

In July 2022, 11 men were arrested in a street-level reverse sting operation in the Broadway area. Two undercover police officers posed as prostituted women in a sting operation in the Broadway area. The male sex buyers were from Lawrence, Salem, New Hampshire, and Elmhurst, New York, and were each charged with sexual conduct for a fee.  The state’s Department of a Children and Families was also notified when one men left his child in his car while he soliciting an undercover police officer posing as a prostituting woman. When he was arrested for offering the woman $20 for a sex act, he told them he had left his son in the car around the corner. The boy was brought back to the police department; the Department of Children and Families (DCF) was notified and the boy’s aunt was called to come get him, police said. Another man arrested in the operation was additionally charged with illegal possession of cocaine and outstanding warrant. The operation included officers and detectives from the Lawrence Police Street Crimes Unit, Boston Police Human Trafficking Task Force and the Massachusetts State Police High Risk Victims Unit.

The Lawrence Police Department’s Special Operations Division has incorporated the use of street-level reverse stings to identify and apprehend commercial sex buyers. In these efforts, the LPD has collaborated with officers from neighboring departments in Lowell and Methuen, the Massachusetts State Police, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, and the FBI. Operations typically employ the use of an undercover female officer, who serves as a decoy. When sex buyers attempt to solicit sex, they are promptly arrested.  Police routinely release arrestees’ names and other identifying information to the media. For example, in September 2009 a reverse sting conducted in the White, Vine and Winter street area just north of downtown resulted in the arrest of 11 men, eight of whom had their cars towed and impounded.  In addition to having their identities publicly released, arrested sex buyers in Lawrence may be required to pay a fine and could serve time in jail, their cars will be towed, and they’ll have to pay to retrieve them from impound. In  2009, police had arrested at least 55 men and women during prostitution stings in this area.

A reverse sting in June 2013 resulted in the arrest of 15 sex buyers. Detectives and police officers from Lawrence, as well as North Andover and state police, participated in the operation.  An undercover state trooper worked in the Broadway and Tremont street areas. She was offered $5 to $20 to perform variety of sex acts, resulting in arrests. Earlier, another female trooper worked undercover at Broadway and Valley streets, also netting numerous arrests for solicitation, according to police reports.

In June 2013, a brothel in Lawrence was investigated and the pimp, or “madam,” was arrested.  The case involved the discovery of a client list reported to contain between 1,000 and 2,000 names.  In mid-2013, police were trying to match names on the list with known persons, and then work with the courts to determine what action – if any – would be taken to pursue the sex buyers.

In August 2018, ongoing complaints about criminal activity on Broadway led police to arrest 15 people in a one-day prostitution sting.  One of the arrested people was a man who was charged with soliciting a prostitute, and the Chief of Police said that future investigations will target sex buyers. In October 2018, city police conducted another prostitution sting on Broadway, netted 18 men who were allegedly soliciting prostituted women.  The October operation was the third of its kind since August on Broadway, a gateway area to the city from where police often receive complaints about prostitution from business owners and managers in the area.  Detectives concentrated on the vicinity of Broadway between Haverhill and Cross streets. In addition to the men arrested, police charged six women and arrested eight people on outstanding warrants. In July 2019, another reverse sting resulted in the arrest of 13 men. In the aforementioned reverse sting in July 2022, two undercover female police officers posed as prostituted women in an operation in the Broadway area. Eleven men from Lawrence, Salem, N.H. and Elmhurst, New York, were arrested and charged with sexual conduct for a fee.

Key Partners

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Neighborhood Action and Cameras:

Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking, Related Violence, Drug Offenses:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area; Related Child Endangerment:

State Massachusetts
Type City
Population 80022
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