Lincoln County, North Carolina has a population of about 82,000, and is included in the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Metropolitan Statistical Area. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the county, and throughout the region. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. For example, in 2016, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office arrested two local women after they offered sex to a detective for money. Deputies said the women were arrested near the 1000 block of W. Highway 150 at a home that was used to perform sexual acts in exchange for money. The investigation into the suspected prostitution lasted over two months, in response to police receiving multiple complaints about possible prostitution at the residence. Officials also seized drugs and drug paraphernalia from the home. The suspects were charged with prostitution and aiding and abetting prostitution.
Consumer level demand provides the motivation 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 March, 2017, eight men were arrested during an undercover operation targeting child sex predators. The arrests followed a three-month operation where detectives portrayed children on social media. Lincolnton police said the men agreed to meet the minors to have an “unlawful sexual relationship.” All of the men were charged with one count of soliciting a child for an unlawful sex act by a computer and appearing to meet the child. The men were held in the Lincoln County Jail.
In October 2018, a man in his Lincoln County home in Tomahawk responded to an online post and arranged to meet a 15-year-old girl at her home for sex. Instead, he was arrested by Marathon County Sheriff’s deputies, who had been posing as a teenage girl on Facebook and chatting with the suspect for almost three weeks. The man was charged with using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, six counts of exposing a child to harmful materials and one count of possessing drug paraphernalia. He had sent sexually explicit messages, including photos and videos that showed his genitalia and him performing sexual acts on himself, according to the criminal complaint.
- Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office
- Lincolnton Police Department
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- https://myfox8.com/8-north-carolina-men-charged-in-online-child-sex-operation/ (2017)
- https://www.wausaudailyherald.com/undercover-sting-leads-sex-charges-lincoln-county-man (2018)
- http://lcsomo.com/sting-leads-to-the-arrest-of-seven-sex-offenders/ (2018)
Background on Local Prostitution: