Lynn, MA

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

Lynn is a city of approximately 100,000 residents, located roughly 15 miles north of Boston in Essex County, Massachusetts. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city, and generate complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is the rape and assault of prostituted women, and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. For example, in August, 2019, nine individuals were charged with trafficking victims for sex at three residential locations in Chelsea, East Boston and Lynn that served as fronts for human trafficking.  The defendants were arrested by Massachusetts State Police, and were arraigned in Chelsea District Court on  charges including  Trafficking of Persons for Sexual Servitude, Deriving Support from Prostitution, Conspiracy to Commit Trafficking.

To combat prostitution and sex trafficking in the area, local law enforcement agencies have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex, which provides the revenue stream driving all commercial sex and trafficking.  For example, the Lynn Police Department has conducted a series of street-level reverse stings.  The strategy has resulted in many arrests — a single reverse sting in 2010 resulted in the arrest of 16 sex buyers, and two others in early 2013 resulted in 15 and 18 arrests, including a registered sex offender and an off-duty Boston Police officer. When interviewed by the Lynn Daily Item in April 2013, city law enforcement noted that while some past efforts had “hit the supply side of the sex trade”, recent sex buyer sweeps reflect a conscious effort to “turn [police] attention to demand, because without [the sex buyers], the girls wouldn’t be out there.”  Moreover, LPD officers reported that over 80% of the women they arrested for prostitution in 2012 stated they used heroin and/or other opiates. When asked about the city’s increasingly entangled drug and commercial sex markets, one lieutenant summed up the issue as follows:

“When I see the prostitution arrests, it tells me how bad the heroin problem is in the city. When I see the arrests of the johns, I see there are a lot of men who are willing to take advantage of the women’s addictions for their gratification… Women are coming to Lynn because of not only the supply of drugs, but also because there is a customer base here.”

At the time, representatives of the Lynn Police Department said they would continue to target local sex buyers. Arrested buyers may be subject to community service and fines of up to $500. To further deter offenders, police may release their names, ages, and addresses to the media.

Not all sex buyer arrests are the product of reverse stings using fictional decoys, but may result from investigations or enforcement actions that are responding to allegations of crimes against real victims. For example, in March, 2019, a Massachusetts State Police trooper was arrested for allegedly soliciting a suspected prostituting woman in Lynn. The man pleaded not guilty in Lynn District Court to charges of engaging in unnatural acts, failure to stop for police and assault with a dangerous weapon. He was immediately suspended without pay following his arrest for allegedly picking up the prostituted woman, then fleeing the scene in an unmarked, state-issued pickup truck after he was approached by Lynn police officers. When officers approached the pickup, the suspect put the truck in reverse, then accelerated forward, forcing one of the officers to push off the truck to avoid getting hit. That triggered a high-speed pursuit that ended in Nahant.  The pickup that almost hit the Lynn officer was the “dangerous weapon” that led to the assault charge against the man.In a separate incident two months later, another sex buyer was arrested but not through reverse stings.  In May, 2019, a 23-year-old Lynn man was arrested after police say he had sex with a prostituted woman and then tried to rob the woman by demanding his money back after the transaction.  The incident led to the suspect leading officers on a chase throughout the city.  The man was arrested and charged with armed robbery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, failure to stop for police, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, possession of alcohol from an open container in a motor vehicle and speeding.  Two Lynn police officers had been driving in the area when they heard the yelling and stopped to investigate. When officers approached the pair, the man took off in his car and the police took off in pursuit. The car’s description was radioed and another officer spotted it shortly after.  The pursuit wound throughout various parts of the city, covering numerous streets before the man pulled into a driveway at a residence in Light Street Court and bailed out of the car.  Officers continued to pursue him on foot, eventually catching up to him, tackling him to the ground and taking him into custody.  The victim was cooperative with police, sharing the story of what led to the attempted robbery. She was not charged.

Key Partners

Key Sources

Reverse Stings:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Massachusetts
Type City
Population 100843
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