McDowell County, WV

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

McDowell County, West Virginia, has a population of approximately 19,000 and is the southernmost county in the state. The city of Welch is the county seat and has approximately 2,400 residents. Prostitution activity has been well-documented within McDowell County. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market are sex trafficking, child endangerment, and violence committed against people involved in these transactions. For example, in August 2013, a confidential informant used as a decoy in a prostitution sting operation was assaulted by two individuals.

Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies in their strategy for prevention and response.  Driven in part by complaints from the community regarding prostitution, some police operations have targeted demand. For example, a reverse sting was conducted by the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office in August 2013 that resulted in four arrests. The Sheriff’s Office used a confidential informant as a decoy prostituted woman who was approached by two subjects in an attempt to solicit sex for money. The names and ages of the male sex buyers were released to the media. The sex buyers were arraigned on the solicitation charges before a Magistrate, who set their bond at $1,000 each.

Key Partners

  • McDowell County Sheriff’s Office
State West Virginia
Type County
Population 19111
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