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Leonardtown is a community of approximately 4,600 residents, located in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in other 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. In a local police statement in 2014, it was argued that the social impacts of prostitution often exceed “quality of life” issues that are associated with prostitution, and include other serious criminal acts such as human trafficking, sexual assault, drug distribution and robbery, all known to commonly have a prostitution nexus.
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. The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office has conducted at least three reverse stings in the city. One operation was conducted on June 7, 2013, and resulted in the arrest of at least one sex buyer. A man arranged to meet an undercover female deputy on the College of Southern Maryland’s Leonardtown campus, and was arrested after offering her $80 in exchange for sex. Sheriff’s deputies stated that the operation was not staged on campus grounds, but would not provide further detail on its logistics as it was conducted “in conjunction with an ongoing investigation.”
In December 2014, the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office Vice/Narcotics division announced the results of a web-based sting called Operation Naughty List which resulted in 16 arrests, both male buyers and females offering prostitution. Thirteen of the arrests were of men who were charged with “Solicitation of Prostitution” for paying for a sex act. Police said they targeted websites that are frequently used to solicit prostitution in St. Mary’s County in addition to responding to specific complaints from the public. Police declined to identify the Web sites. The identities of the arrested sex buyers were publicly disclosed by police. .
In June, 2015, police in St. Mary’s County arrested nine people on prostitution-related charges. Police said detectives from the Vice/Narcotics division of the sheriff’s office were “monitoring the internet” and began communicating with both “suspected prostitutes” and sex buyers. As a result, seven male sex buyers and two prostituting women arrived, had contact with an undercover officer, exchanged money for sex and were arrested for violations related to prostitution. Their identities were publicly reported.
Web Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “Leonardtown Rescue Squad President Charged with Prostitution Offense”, Southern Maryland Newspapers Online, June 21 2013.
- http://somd.com/news/headlines/2014/php (2014)
- http://somd.com/news/headlines/2015/php (2015)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Reports”, Southern Maryland Online, March 18 2009.
- https://thebaynet.com/complaints-of-prostitution-at-local-park-investigation-continues-html/ (2010)
- http://www.thebaynet.com/articles/1215/severalbustedinprostitutionringprobe.html (2015)
- http://firstsheriff.blogspot.com/2015/06/multiple-arrests-made-in-prostitution.html (2015)
- https://thebaynet.com/churchsheriffsofficeraisehumantraffickingawareness-html/ (2016)
- https://www.lifesitenews.com/maryland-public-libraries-called-out-for-offering-youth-sex-ed-classes-led/ (2017)
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