Lexington County, SC

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

Lexington County is located in South Carolina, with a population of approximately 300,000 residents. Its county seat and largest town is Lexington, and it is located in the Columbia, SC metropolitan area. Other notable communities within the county include Springdale, a town of approximately 3,000 residents, located just outside of Columbia. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented problems in the county and surrounding communities. Additionally, Lexington County has seen several instances of sex trafficking of minors and forced prostitution of minors. Among the tactics used to combat sexual exploitation are those targeting consumer level demand for prostitution and sex trafficking.

In fall 2006, the Springdale Police Department and Lexington County Multi-Agency Narcotics Enforcement Team (NET) collaborated to conduct two street-level reverse stings. The operations used undercover female officers, who posed as prostituted women. When sex buyers attempted to solicit sex from the women, they were apprehended by police. Police released the names and photos of arrestees to the local media. Another reverse sting was carried out in late February 2014 utilizing decoy online advertisements, which was initiated in response to tips about illegal prostitution. The sting resulted in the arrests of 12 sex buyers. All of the arrestees’ identities were disclosed to the press. A similar web-based reversal in September 2015 netted 12 sex buyers. The offenders’ identities were again publicized. In August 2019, the LCSO deputies along with NET agents arrested five individuals as part of an undercover prostitution sting.

In January 2007, Lexington County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) detectives charged three men with having sex with an underage girl, whose mother forced her and her underage sister to work as a prostitutes in order to provide money to finance her crack cocaine habit. All three men were charged with criminal sexual conduct with a minor and criminal solicitation of a minor. The mother was charged with promoting prostitution involving a minor, unlawful neglect of a child, and permitting a child to engage in an obscene act. Her bail was set at $60,000.

In May 2022, a large scale sting was conducted focusing on apprehending individuals seeking to sexually exploit children. An undercover operation led to the arrest of 11 men in the Midlands, according to a LCSO press release. Officers posed as underage teenagers and the suspects messaged them through social media apps. After the suspect asked to meet with ‘the child,’ detectives were staged at a predetermined meeting spot to arrest them. The LCSO served as the host agency for the operation and collaborated with the LPD and the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office. According to the information publicly released, most of the men were profiled as sex offenders rather than sex buyers, and were not charged with soliciting prostitution. One of the men was charged with “promoting the prostitution of a minor” along with two counts of second-degree attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor, and evidently sought to purchase sex. The identities of all the arrested men were publicly disclosed.

Key Partners

  • Lexington County Sheriff’s Office
    • Multi-Agency Narcotics Enforcement Team (NET)
  • Springdale Police Department
  • Lexington Police Department
  • South Carolina Attorney General’s Office

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings with Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings with Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:

State South Carolina
Type County
Population 295033
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