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Middlesex County is a county in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with an estimated population was 1,590,000. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the cities and unincorporated areas of the county, such as Burlington, Cambridge, Framingham, Lowell, Stoneham, Belmont, and Woburn. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market are child sex trafficking and the assault and homicide of prostituted persons. For example, in 2016 a Lowell man was arrested and in 2017 found guilty by a jury in Middlesex Superior Court for sex trafficking a child. The man had raped a 13-year-old girl and then forced her into prostitution, and had given her drugs to to establish addiction and control. He was charged with drug and sex trafficking charges, including two counts of aggravated rape of a child and trafficking of a child under the age of 18 for sexual servitude. Other investigations have revealed larger prostitution rings and human trafficking networks that span multiple communities throughout the region and state (e.g., Andover, Cambridge, Burlington, Haverill, Lawrence, Newton, Quincy, Stoneham, Tewksbury).
In March, 2021, police say a prostituting woman attacked a man in his shed after he backed out of buying sex from her. The 27 year old woman beat the 65-year-old man bloody, robbed him, and destroyed several items before her arrest in the incident in Ashland, MA. The victim called 911 shortly after. He told police that he had found an ad for the woman on a website for prostitution and scheduled her to come to his MacArthur Street home. When she arrived, she had a man with her, which upset the potential sex buyer. He told her he was no longer interested in her services and asked her to leave, and then she retaliated.
Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. To reduce prostitution and sex trafficking activity in the area, the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office, multi-jurisdictional task forces, and other law enforcement agencies at city, county, state, and federal levels have conducted reverse stings and other demand-focused tactics within the county. For example, In April, 2017, seven men were arrested for attempting to purchase sex from an undercover detective at a Cambridge hotel as part of a larger operation that led to a total of 29 arrests across the state, according to the Attorney General’s Office. In a push to reduce demand for commercial sex, the Attorney General’s Office partnered with the Cambridge Police Department and other cities to locate and arrest sex buyers. Attorney General’s Office and the Massachusetts State Police’s Human Trafficking Unit had been working with four community police departments since March 2017 as part of a sting operation. The Cambridge reverse sting involved a hotel on Monsignor O’Brien Highway; police would not provide the name of the hotel. In each of the arrests, the female CPD detective lured the men by claiming she was someone who performed sex in exchange for money. All seven men who were arrested allegedly propositioned the undercover detective. Police would not provide specific details about how the detective lured the men, but said there was an “online component.”
In January 2018, five men were arrested during a reverse sting operation conducted at a Burlington hotel. The reverse sting included the Burlington police detective unit, officers from the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office and the New England Electronic Crimes Task Force. Those arrested were charged with sexual conduct for a fee and arraigned in Woburn District Court.
- Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office
- Burlington Police Department
- Cambridge Police Department
- Lawrence Police Department
- Lowell Police Department
- Methuen Police Department
- Woburn Police Department
- Massachusetts State Police
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- Annual Crime Report: Sexual Offenses, Cambridge Police Department, 2000.
- “Seven Charged in ‘Johns’ Sweep”, Lowell Sun, September 27 2001.
- “NMRHS Administrator on Leave Following Arrest”, Townsend Times, October 23 2001.
- “7 Nabbed in Prostitution Sweep”, Lowell Sun, February 23 2002.
- “Three Charged in Lowell Prostitution Sweep”, Lowell Sun, November 10 2002.
- “Police Briefs”, Lowell Sun, November 3 2003.
- “Police Sting Results in 3 Arrests; Men Nabbed by Female Officer for Prostitution; FRAMINGHAM,” Framingham MetroWest Daily News, November 13 2005.
- “Three Men Charged with Prostitution,” Milford Daily News, November 13 2005.
- “FRAMINGHAM: Prostitution Sting Leads to an Arrest; Man Charged after He Allegedly Offers an Undercover Police Officer Money for Sex,” Framingham MetroWest Daily News, September 4 2006.
- “Prostitution Sting Leads to Man’s Arrest; Crackdown Comes after Police Say Man Was Caught Soliciting Sex from a Cop,” Norwood Daily News Transcript, September 4 2006.
- “Suspected ‘John’ Is Arrested Again; Cops: Man Tried to Use Booking Slip from His Arrest as an Identification,” Framingham MetroWest Daily News, September 6 2006.
- “Plan to Raise Fine for Those Soliciting Sex Urged in the Lowell Area”, Lowell Sun, February 8 2006.
- “Police Ask Residents to Help Stop Crime”, Lowell Sun, July 19 2007.
- “14 Nabbed in City Prostitution Sting”, Lowell Sun, July 20 2007.
- “Names Released in Vice Sweep”, Lowell Sun, July 21 2007.
- “Cable Chief Arraigned on Charges of Soliciting Sex”, North Andover Eagle Tribune, February 12 2008.
- “11 Charged in Prostitution Sweep”, Lowell Sun, March 8 2008.
- “11 Men Busted in Lowell Sex Sting”, Lowell Sun, June 3 2008.
- “7 ‘Johns’ Snared in Prostitution Sting”, Lowell Sun, September 13 2008.
- “Prostitution Sweep Nets at Least Nine Arrests in Lowell”, Lowell Sun, August 14 2009.
- “Lowell Police Arrest ‘Johns’ in Sting”, Lowell Sun, September 1 2009.
- “Prostitution Sting in Lowell Nets 16 Arrests”, Lowell Sun, June 26 2012.
- “Sex Sting Cheered by Downtown Businesses”, Lowell Sun, July 13 2012.
- “Eighteen Arrested in Lowell Prostitution Sweep”, Boston Globe, August 24 2012.
- “Sex Sting Leads to Minimal Penalties”, Lowell Sun, September 2 2012.
- “Prostitution Sting Leads to Multiple Arrests”, Burlington Patch, November 18 2013.
- “Seven Arrested in Burlington Reverse Sting”, Lowell Sun, November 18 2013.
- “Seven Johns Charged in Burlington Reverse Prostitution Sting”, Burlington Patch, November 18 2013.
- “Woman Buys Gold with Fraudulent Check, Multiple Men Arrested on Prostitution Charges”, Burlington Patch, November 29 2013.
- “Eight of 10 Facing Prostitution-Related Charges Plead Not Guilty”, Lowell Sun, October 6 2014.
- “Not-Guilty Pleas in Lowell Prostitution Sting”, Lowell Sun, October 7 2014.
- “Police: Six ‘Johns’ Busted in Framingham Sweep,” Framingham MetroWest Daily News, October 26 2015.
- http://www.lowellsun.com/breakingnews/ci_31390439/ten-arrested-lowell-prostitution-charges (2017)
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “Police Crack Down on Prostitution”, Burlington Union, February 13 2008.
- “Local Men Among Those Charged in Prostitution Bust”, Lowell Sun, February 15 2008.
- https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2014/12/07/prostitution-sweep-nabs-7-johns-in-burlington (2014)
- “8 Charged after Prostitution Sting in Burlington,” Brattleboro Reformer, December 8 2014.
- “Eight Arrested in Burlington Police Department Prostitution Sweep,” Wicked Local Burlington, December 8 2014.
- “Burlington Police Will Conduct Prostitution Stings in Coming Months,” Boston Globe, October 15 2015.
- “Burlington Police to Conduct Prostitution Stings,” Boston Globe, October 20 2015.
- “Prostitution Sting Nabs Local Men,” Lowell Sun, November 23 2015.
- “Police: Brockton Man Charged with Human Trafficking in Prostitution Sting,” Brockton Enterprise, November 24 2015.
- http://cambridge.wickedlocal.com/news/20170501/police-7-busted-for-attempting-to-buy-sex-in-cambridge-29-arrested-across-state (2017)
- http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2018/02/5_men_arrested_in_prostitution.html (2018)
Background on Local Sex Trafficking and Prostitution:
- “Lowell Man Charged in Boy’s Death”, Boston Globe, May 2 1989.
- “Lowell Man Indicted in Boy’s Death”, Boston Globe, May 17 1989.
- “Central Square: Cambridge’s ‘Real World’”, Boston Globe, May 15 1994.
- “News in Brief: Lowell Man Arrested in N.J. Prostitution Case”, Boston Herald, March 11 1995.
- “Prostitution Probe Widens; Police: Lowell Man Preyed on Runaways”, Boston Herald, March 12 1995.
- “Lowell Pimp Has ‘Notorious’ Record”, Boston Herald, March 14 1995.
- “Cops Say Alleged Pimp Dragged Girl to N.J.”, Boston Herald, April 7 1995.
- “Man Jailed on Prostitution Law”, Boston Globe, December 19 1995.
- “Lowell Man Charged with Using Girls in Prostitution Ring”, Boston Globe, November 13 1997.
- “Man Accused of Running Teenage Prostitution Ring”, Orlando Sentinel, November 13 1997.
- “Alleged Lowell Pimp Charged with Child Rape”, Boston Herald, December 18 1997.
- “Portrait of a Predator; Lowell Man Allegedly Lured Runaway Girls”, Boston Globe, February 3 1998.
- “Man Indicted for Luring Underage Runaways into Prostitution Ring”, Lewiston Sun Journal, February 4 1998.
- “Lowell Couple Accused of Pimping Young Girls”, Boston Herald, March 11 1998.
- “Lowell Pimp Convicted of Preying on Young Girls”, Boston Herald, November 19 1998.
- “Shop Owner Arrested on Prostitution Allegations”, Harvard Crimson, October 17 2005.
- https://masslawyersweekly.com/fulltext-opinions/2007/11/12/commonwealth-v-asmeron-442228/ (2007)
- “Cops: Internet-Savvy Prostitute Busted in West Cambridge”, Cambridge Chronicle, January 15 2008.
- “Cambridge Police Hotel Sting Nets Prostitutes”, Wicked Local Cambridge, November 16 2009.
- http://www.lowellsun.com/local/ci_14503995 (2010)
- “Police: Woman Tried to Rob John; Both Are Arrested after They Fought for Wallet,” Framingham MetroWest Daily News, July 26 2011.
- “Prostitute, Two Men Charged in Motel Robbery,” Framingham MetroWest Daily News, October 18 2011.
- “Quincy Pair Face Robbery Charges; Police: They Advertised Prostitution Services Then Took Client’s Cash,” Quincy Patriot Ledger, October 18 2011.
- “Man Accused of Operating Cambridge Brothels”, Harvard Crimson, July 20 2011.
- “Burlington Police Bust Prostitution Ring at 166 Cambridge St.”, Burlington Union, September 28 2012.
- “Human Trafficking Network Allegedly Spanned NW of Boston Region”, Burlington Patch, May 13 2013.
- “Lowell Woman Held in Sex-Trafficking Case,” Lowell Sun, April 3 2015.
- “Lowell Man Facing Human-Trafficking Charges Held on High Bail,” Lowell Sun, January 28 2016.
- http://www.bostonherald.com/lowell_man_with_horrendous_record_arraigned_on_sex_trafficking (2016)
- https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/05/17/lowell-man-sentenced-for-prostituting-year-old-girl (2017)
- https://www.masslive.com/man_allegedly_ran_prostitution_ring_from_woburn_hotel (2017)
- https://www.necn.com/2-Men-Charged-With-Human-Sex-Trafficking-in-Lowell-Mass (2018)
- http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/news/lowell-man-sentenced-minimum-5-years-human-trafficking (2018)
- https://whdh.com/man-sentenced-to-state-prison-on-human-trafficking-charges/ (2022)
- https://fallriverreporter.com/massachusetts-man-sentenced-prison-human-trafficking-enterprise/ (2022)
Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Lowell Man Names 2 in ’78 Murder of Gay”, Boston Globe, March 5 1980.
- “Accuser Tells of ’92 Rape by 4 in Lowell”, Boston Globe, September 22 1993.
- “4 Found Guilty of Rape in Lowell; Struggle Ensues After Bail Revoked”, Boston Globe, September 29 1993.
- “4 Men Sentenced to State Prison for Kidnap and Rape of Woman”, Boston Herald, October 21 1993.
- “Four Men Get Prison for Raping Prostitute”, Boston Globe, October 21 1993.
- “SWAT Team Nabs Rape Suspect Following Standoff in Lowell”, Boston Herald, June 23 1995.
- “Homeless Man Charged in Rape, Robbery of Prostitute”, Lowell Sun, April 22 2002.
- “City Man Pleads Innocent to Raping Prostitute at Gunpoint”, Lowell Sun, June 6 2002.
- “Lowell Man Gets Nine Years for Brutal Rape”, Lowell Sun, March 30 2003.
- “Lowell Man Convicted in Rape of Prostitute”, Lowell Sun, July 19 2003.
- “Man Who Terrorized Prostitutes Back in Prison on Sex Charge”, Lowell Sun, August 27 2005.
- “Deals, Dangers on Craigslist: Greater Lowell Police Say Killing Is a Wake-Up Call”, Lowell Sun, April 24 2009.
- “Man Held without Bail; Prado Charged in Rape, Robbery in Burlington”, Burlington Union, February 3 2009.
- “Man Found Guilty of Rape, Robbery Charges in Burlington and Tewksbury”, Burlington Union, September 28 2011.
- “Lowell Police Officer Arraigned on Rape Charges”, Boston Globe, July 12 2011.
- “Prostitute’s Murder Fuels AG Maura Healey’s Fight vs. Online Sex Ads,” Boston Herald, July 7 2015.
- http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/news/lowell-man-sentenced-minimum-5-years-human-trafficking (2018)
- http://www.patriotledger.com/murder-of-19-year-old-in-braintree-tied-to-sex-trafficking (2018)
- https://www.metrowestdailynews.com/worcester-woman-arrested-ashland-sex-rendezvous-goes-awry (2021)