Maricopa County is located in Southwestern Arizona, and contains over 3,800,000 residents. It is the 4th most populous county in the United States and includes the state’s capital, Phoenix. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office uses reverse stings and sting operations to arrest those engaged in prostitution, solicitation of prostituted persons, or running a house of prostitution. A series of operations in 2003 captured 72 women and clients around the county. Officers targeted homes, massage parlors, and used female officers to draw men to three hotels. Names, ages, and hometowns of arrested johns were reported in the news along with pictures of the arrest and all the locations of the operations.
More recently, police have been working on dismantling child prostitution sex rings that advertise online, by conducting web-based reverse stings. For example, in December 2013, two female detectives posed as 16-year-old girls available for sexual exploitation, soliciting via online ads. The MCSO arrested 30 men attempting to buy sex from the detectives, one of whom reportedly stated that he wanted to have sex with the two girls before going to his daughter’s 16th birthday party. In July, 2019, twenty-five people in the Valley were arrested on child sex-trafficking charges in a multi-agency sting operation called Operation Summer Shield. The arrests came after an undercover operation by the Tempe Police Department, the Mesa Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. The men arrested ranged in age from 19 to 63 years old, and they faced charges that include child sex trafficking, sexual abuse, luring of a minor for sexual exploitation, attempted sex conduct with a minor, furnishing harmful materials to a minor and possession of dangerous drugs. Undercover officers and detectives had placed ads on various websites and apps used by people interested in illegal sex acts with children. The suspects are named and pictured on a Tempe Police Department News release.
The city of Tempe currently imposes “order-out” restrictions on individuals repeatedly arrested for prostitution. Much like SOAP orders, city police may order a person to stay out of a specified place as a condition of his or her probation. Should he/she return to the area, he/she may be arrested and jailed for up to 30 days.
- Street-Level Reverse Stings:
- Web-Based Reverse Stings and Shaming:
- “111 Arrested in Massive Prostitution, Drug Sting by MCSO”, KTVK-TV 3, December 18 2013.
- “Arpaio’s Office Makes 11 Arrests in Prostitution, Drug and Adult-Business Violation Cases”, Arizona Republic, December 18 2013.
- “Arrests in Tempe Teen-Prostitution Sting”, Arizona Republic, December 18 2013.
- “MCSO Drug, Prostitution Sting Nets 111 Arrests”, CBS/KPHO-TV 5, December 18 2013.
- “Tempe Teen-Sex Sting by MCSO Nets 30 Arrests”, Arizona Republic, December 18 2013.
- “Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Office Arrests 30 People in Arizona Child Prostitution Sting”, ABC/KNXV-TV 15, December 18 2013.
- “Tempe Teen Prostitution Sting: Dozens Hung Up After ‘Girls’ Said They Were 16”, Arizona Republic, December 27 2013.
- “Arizona Johns in teen-prostitution sting dispute charges,” AZ Central News, August 8, 2014.
- https://arizonadailyindependent.com/2016/12/14/mesa-police-child-prostitution-arrests/ (2016)
- https://patch.com/arizona/phoenix/25-valley-men-nabbed-child-sex-trafficking-sting-operation (2019)
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “PD: Phoenix Man Arrested for Soliciting Prostitute”, CBS/KPHO-TV 5, June 22 2012.
- “FBI: Phoenix Pimp Busted in Nationwide Child Prostitution Sting”, CBS/KPHO-TV 5, June 29 2012.
- “2 Arrested, Suspected of Child Prostitution”, Arizona Republic, July 30 2012.
- “Inquiries Reveal Shadowy Valley Porn Industry”, Arizona Republic, November 27 2012.
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/news/sex-sting-went-way-too-far/ (2004)
- “Undercover Prostitute Sting Leads to Nearly 40 Arrests”, Arizona Republic, September 18 2012.
- “51 Arrested as Drug Probe Leads to Prostitution Ring”, CBS/KPHO-TV 5, September 19 2012.
- “Arpaio’s Detectives Uncover East Valley Prostitution Ring”, Press Release, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, September 19 2012.