Lenoir, NC

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

Lenoir is a city of approximately 18,000 in northeastern North Carolina, near the Tennessee border. Lenoir is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and is the county seat of Caldwell County. Prostitution, sex trafficking, human trafficking, and rape have been well documented in the city. For example, in September 2020, a Lenoir woman was charged with human trafficking of an adult victim and assault. These charges came after police rescued a woman who was held against her will inside the apartment. Neighbors had called LPD to report suspicious activity after witnessing several people entering a nearby apartment, according to investigators. No further details were shared at the time, due to an ongoing investigation.

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. For example, in 2014, the Lenoir Police Department (LPD) assisted the Boone Police Department and North Carolina SBI in a web-based reverse sting against sex buyers, which resulted in the arrest of four men. According to local news, detectives posted ads online offering prostitution services. Undercover officers then met the potential sex buyers at hotels where they were charged after agreeing to pay money for sex.

In response to complaints from female residents in the area in early 2018, the LPD began investigating a man for attempting to lure women to his residence under the pretense of having them apply for a job cleaning his apartment.  Several of the women stated that during the alleged interview the man propositioned them to engage in sex for money. A female undercover investigator with the Lenoir Police Department went to his apartment after telephone conversations concerning the position, and the man propositioned the officer to engage in a sexual act for money. A surveillance team of officers entered the apartment and took the sex buyer into custody, where he was charged and given a $10,000 secure bond and placed in the Caldwell County Detention Center.  The identity of the arrested sex buyer was disclosed to news outlets.

Key Partners

  • Lenoir Police Department
  • Boone Police Department
  • North Carolina SBI
State North Carolina
Type City
Population 18263
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