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Lincolnton is a city of approximately 11,000 residents in Lincoln County, North Carolina. It is a suburb of the Charlotte metropolitan area. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the city, including instances of child sex trafficking and online exploitation. To combat the demand for commercial sex activity, reverse stings have been conducted by the Lincolnton Police Department (LPD).
In May 2015, a web-based reverse sting resulted in the arrest of 17 suspects accused of soliciting sex from minors. The LPD conducted the operation targeting child predators soliciting children through various social media websites. The operation was conducted from February to May 2015. The offenders came from various backgrounds and locations and had agreed to meet the undercover officer posing as either an underage girl or boy from Lincolnton in order to have sexual activity with them. The investigation received over 1,000 responses from various social media outlets during the operation. Some of the offenders additionally brought alcohol and controlled substances with them to meet with whom they believed to be underage children. Assisting the Lincolnton Police Department with this operation were the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, the Lincoln County Child Advocacy Center, Burke County Sheriff’s Office, Old Fort Police Department, Iredell County Sheriff’s Office, Mooresville Police Department, Newton Police Department, Cherryville Police Department, Gaston County Police Department, North Carolina DMV Inspector’s Office, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, and the National Exploited Children’s Network. Among those arrested was a former English teacher and soccer coach from Belmont. He was charged with soliciting sex from a minor female, in addition to delivering marijuana.
In March 2017, Lincolnton police conducted another reverse sting targeting child sexual predators. The three-month long investigation involved detectives portraying children on social media. Men then agreed to meet the minors to have an “unlawful sexual relationship.” Eight men were charged with one count of soliciting a child for an unlawful sex act by a computer and appearing to meet the child. Their identities were released to the press.
- Lincolnton Police Department
- Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office
- Lincoln County Child Advocacy Center
- Burke County Sheriff’s Office
- Old Fort Police Department
- Iredell County Sheriff’s Office
- Mooresville Police Department
- Newton Police Department
- Cherryville Police Department
- Gaston County Police Department
- North Carolina DMV Inspector’s Office
- National Exploited Children’s Network
Web-Based Reverse Stings with Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.facebook.com/posts/police-sting-operation-catches-17-mensuspects-are-accused-of-soliciting-sex (2015)
- 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)
Background on Sexual Assault and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- https://www.wsoctv.com/deputies-woman-escapes-after-being-sexually-assaulted-attacked-lincolnton/ (2021)
- https://www.fox46.com/news/local-news/homeless-lincolnton-man-charged-with-child-sex-assault/ (2022)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- https://www.lincolntimesnews.com/news/prostitution-sting-nets-lincolnton-suspect (2009)
- https://www.wbtv.com/women-arrested-in-undercover-lincoln-county-prostitution-sting/ (2016)
- https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/crime/article (2016)
- https://whky.com/woman-arrested-on-felony-drug-charges-for-second-time-in-two-weeks/ (2022)
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