Matteson is a village of approximately 19,000 residents, located in Cook and Will counties, Illinois, near Chicago Heights. Cases of prostitution and sex trafficking have been reported in the community for over a decade.
In 2004, for example, an adult trafficker was apprehended in Chicago after an 18-year-old female victim called 911 on a local pay phone. After launching an investigation, law enforcement agencies discovered that the trafficker had been keeping the girls at a hotel in Matteson and driving them into Chicago to “stroll” a two-mile stretch of 47th Street in the evenings. According to the Chicago Tribune, the case was “the first-ever federal prosecution of juvenile sex trafficking in Chicago.”
Although efforts to reduce demand within Matteson appear limited, the community has served as the staging ground for at least three reverse stings. In February 2015, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office reported the arrests of 16 johns in the city as part of the ninth annual National Day of Johns Arrests. The operation was conducted by the Matteson Police Department, with the assistance of the CCSO. The identities of the men arrested were not released to the public.
In early April 2015, the Chicago Tribune reported that the MPD and CCSO had staged a second joint reversal in Matteson. The operation, launched in mid-March 2015, saw undercover officers place decoy advertisements to websites known for commercial sex sales. At least one john, a former law enforcement officer, was arrested after responded to the listing and arranging to meet the officer at a Matteson hotel. His name was publicized in media outlets, but it is unclear if it was released by law enforcement as part of a conscious shaming effort or had been obtained independently by members of the press.
In early February 2016, MPD and CCSO officers announced the completion of a third reverse sting in the community. The operation, conducted in late January 2016 at a local hotel using a female undercover officer, was one of at least two anti-prostitution details staged in Cook County in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl– the other was staged in nearby Lansing. In the days following the operations, the Chicago Tribune interviewed the MPD Police Chief who indicated that 20 johns had been intercepted during the two stings, seven of which were picked up in Matteson. Their identities were not disclosed to the public, but the MPD officer reported that those arrested “face[d] a $500 fine, plus a $500 administration fee and towing fines if they used a vehicle in their attempt to buy sex.” When asked about prostitution reduction efforts in the community, the law enforcement officer noted that “88 people were cited for attempting to buy sex in Matteson” in 2015.
- Matteson Police Department
- Cook County Sheriff’s Office
- Reverse Stings:
- “570 Sex Buyers Arrested in National Super Bowl Sting Operation,” Press Release, Cook County Sheriff’s Office, February 2 2015.
- “Nearly 600 Suspects Arrested in National Solicitation Sting,” ABC/WLS-TV 7, February 2 2015.
- “Sheriff Advertises Prostitution Sting, But Johns Still Arrested,” CBS/WBBM-TV 2, February 3 2015.
- “Southland Prostitution Sting Nets 20 Arrests,” Chicago Tribune, February 10 2016.
- Web-Based Reverse Stings:
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Richton Park Man Charged with Forcing Teen to Be a Prostitute,” Chicago Tribune, October 15 2004.
- “Richton Park: Grand Jury Indicts Powell on Pimping Charges,” Matteson and Richton Park Star, October 24 2004.
- “At War with the Pimps of Children,” Chicago Tribune, August 5 2005.
- “FBI Intensifies Efforts to Stop Child Prostitution in U.S. Cities,” Chicago Tribune, August 7 2005.
- “Prosecutors Claim: Mr. Cream Has Words of Wisdom for Pimps; Richton Park Man Accused of Making Prostitutes Walk Streets of Harvey, Chicago,” Chicago Daily Southtown, February 8 2007.
- “Sex Trafficking Case Outlined; ‘I’m a Born Pimp,’ Richton Park Man Alleged Wrote in Jailhouse Manifesto,” Chicago Daily Southtown, February 11 2007.
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Matteson: Massage Business May Lose Its License,” Matteson and Richton Park Star, December 19 2004.
- “Matteson: Massage Parlor May Lose License Today,” Matteson and Richton Park Star, December 23 2004.
- “Matteson: Mayor Stricker Revokes Massage Parlor License,” Matteson and Richton Park Star, December 30 2004.
- “Matteson Revokes Massage Parlor License,” Chicago Daily Southtown, December 31 2004.