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Milton-Freewater is a city in Northeastern Oregon of approximately 7,000 residents located in Umatilla County, OR. The city received its current name in 1951 when the neighboring cities of Milton and Freewater voted to merge. The city is part of the Pendleton–Hermiston Micropolitan Statistical Area. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been documented in the area. For example, in 2011 a man pleaded guilty to Promoting Prostitution offenses in Pendleton, and was sentenced to two years in prison and five years of post-prison supervision, in addition to mandatory fines and fees. In 2016, a defendant in a Milton-Freewater kidnapping and robbery case told jurors the real crime was a prostitution deal that went awry. The state accused two men of beating and robbing a man, then taking him against his will and eventually kicking him out of a vehicle. Among the more serious crimes associated with the area’s commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. Under the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative (ILNI), local law enforcement agencies have participated in the annual nationwide initiative focused on targeting the criminal enterprises responsible for the commercial sex trafficking of children known as, Operation Cross County (OCC). Participating agencies in the area include the Hermiston Police Department, Umatilla Tribal Police Department, and the Umatilla County District Attorney’s Office.
Among the tactics used to address such problems have been those targeting consumer level demand. In response to a survey conducted in 2021 by the NCOSE team for a National Institute of Justice grant to update and expand Demand Forum (Grant #2020-75-CX-0011), representatives from the Milton-Freewater Police Department reported that they have implemented the following tactics in the city: Driver’s license suspension, public education specifically targeting demand, and the use of surveillance cameras to deter sex buyers and gather evidence of their activity.
2021 National Assessment II Survey
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- https://www.hermistonherald.com/courts-07-19-2011 (2011)
- https://www.eastoregonian.com/man-moves-to-change-plea-in-prostitution-case (2014)
- https://www.fbi.gov/fbi-announces-results-of-national-child-sex-trafficking-operation (2015)
- https://www.union-bulletin.com/defendant-claims-money-for-sex-lead-to-robbery-assault-charges (2016)