Montgomery County, MD
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Montgomery County is a county of over 1 million residents, located in Maryland just northwest of Washington, D.C. The county seat is Rockville. Another city in the county that has used demand tactics is Gaithersburg. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been documented in the county, resulting in complaints to law enforcement. Since about 2o1o, law enforcement officials have noted a significant increase in prostitution activity on websites like Craigslist and Backpage.com, and others since their demise. In March 2012, a former airport security manager was arrested and charged with prostitution after a bust at a Montgomery County hotel. Management tipped off police after observing suspicious behavior at one of the rooms at the Silver Spring hotel in February. A man was seen repeatedly escorting groups of men and women in and out of one room after waiting in the lobby. Management recognized the man who rented the room as a frequent guest who’d engaged in similar behavior during prior stays at the hotel. The guest told police no illegal activity was going on in the room and allowed police to enter the room, where they found 11 people, including three naked women and four men putting on their clothing. Officers interviewed the 11 people in the room, and one said he paid the main suspect $100 for sex. Sources said the man used Craigslist to set up the encounters. Police served him with an arrest warrant charging him with five counts of prostitution. His employer, the TSA, confirmed the suspect was a transportation security manager at Dulles International Airport, hired in 2002. He was fired by TSA following his arrest. Homeland Security said it received a similar complaint about the man and prostitution in 2009, but it is unclear if anything was done about that complaint.
Local sex trafficking of teens has also been confirmed through investigations, as well as prostitution-related assaults and robberies. For example, in January 2012, the operators of four Rockville massage parlors were arrested and faced human trafficking and prostitution-related charges. Montgomery County Police said that investigators began probing the businesses in September 2011, and found that they were were “havens” for human trafficking. Prostitution brothels were operating under the guise of being massage or acupressure parlors. Three defendants were charged with human trafficking, and all four men were charged with conducting prostitution. Police said the investigation into the businesses began after authorities saw a large increase in the number of massage parlors being advertised in the adult-services sections of online advertisement sites. The police department was also receiving a number of complaints about illegal activities at the businesses. In February 2022, Montgomery County Police said a man had been arrested with sex trafficking and prostitution-related charges. Detectives began an investigation on the man after a victim came forward and told police she was sex trafficked by him. The man was arrested in the area of Heartfields Road in Silver Spring, where he attempted to pick up a trafficking victim in his vehicle with the intent to take her to a hotel to meet with individuals for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
Among their efforts to address the numerous negative impacts of prostitution and sex trafficking, the Montgomery County Police Department, in collaboration with the county’s State’s Attorney’s Office, have conducted reverse stings to identify and apprehend sex buyers. In their efforts, police utilized an undercover female officer, who posed as a 16-year-old sex trafficked minor and posted decoy advertisements to the sites suspected of illegal activity. The investigation lasted just over five months and resulted in the arrest of 18 sex buyers. All were charged with attempting to solicit paid sexual abuse with a minor. Police released the men’s names, ages, and addresses in a formal press release. An article published in November 2017 stated that the State’s Attorney’s Office had prosecuted 48 male sex buyers since June of that year, and that most had received community service as their sentence.
In August 2019, Montgomery County Police arrested a Bethesda man who co-owned the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. and charged him with soliciting prostitution at a massage business. The investigation began after a licensed massage and physical therapist contacted police to report the man’s solicitation the previous day. He made an appointment for a massage and during the session “made sexual comments and inappropriate sexual motions. He implied to the victim that her tip would be greater if she performed sexual acts,” according to a press release. The massage therapist also told police that the man “left a roll of cash laying on the floor in plain sight in the massage room” and twice asked if she would come to his home to provide a massage. She declined and ended the massage early because of his increasing inappropriate sexual behavior. The man texted her business phone later that day and the next day, the woman helped Vice and Intelligence Unit detectives set up a text-based sting operation. He called her and agreed to pay her cash for sexual favors, and was arrested when he returned to the massage business. The man was charged with solicitation for prostitution and his identity was released to the press. In November 2019, he pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to three years’ probation.
In October 2019, Montgomery County Police filed charges against 20 men who allegedly admitted to receiving sexual massage services in exchange for money. The men included a real estate agent, mortgage broker, pharmacist, commander in the U.S. Navy, employee with the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation, plus a part-time contractor with the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office. In March 2019, Montgomery County Police’s Vice & Intelligence Unit launched a five-month human trafficking investigation at a spa in Rockville, near Montgomery College’s flagship campus. On multiple days, officers conducted undercover surveillance outside of the massage parlor. Police stopped 75 male buyers during the course of their investigation. Twenty-one of those stopped admitted to receiving some sort of illicit sex act for money. All 20 men faced one count of “prostitution-general,” which carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and/or $500 in fines. No mugshots were available as police issued the men district court summonses instead of arrest warrants. Many of the men retained private defense attorneys. Investigators believed the spa recruited its masseuses — all Chinese immigrants — from Flushing, New York. The Queens neighborhood is known for being a hub for the human trafficking of Asian women. The identities of all 20 sex buyers were listed in news reports.
- Montgomery County State Attorney’s Office
- Montgomery County Police Department
- Special Investigations Division: Vice and Intelligence Unit
Web-Based Reverse Stings:
Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- https://bethesdamagazine.com/bethesda-man-who-co-owns-930-club-facing-prostitution-charge (2019)
- https://wjla.com/930-club-co-owner-solicitation-of-prostitution-massage (2019)
- https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/cng-ho-seth-hurwitz-prostitution (2019)
- https://www.washingtonpost.com/music-promoter-seth-hurwitz-pleads-guilty-to-sexual-solicitation (2019)
- https://bethesdamagazine.com/bethesda-man-who-co-owns-930-club-pleads-guilty-to-prostitution (2019)
Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:
- https://wjla.com/20-charged-rockville-massage-parlor (2019)
- https://patch.com/police-shut-down-rockville-spa-call-it-house-prostitution (2019)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “2 Arrested as Leaders of Prostitution Ring After 3-Month Probe,” Washington Times, July 27 1990.
- “Montgomery Police Arrest Three in Human Trafficking, Prostitution Cases,” Washington Post, March 7 2010.
- “Media Advisories,” Press Release, Montgomery County Police Department, November 8 2010.
- “Police Investigation Results in Charging Business Operators with Conducting Human Trafficking and Prostitution,” Press Release, Montgomery County Police Department, January 27 2012.
- https://www.nbcwashington.com/Prostitution-Arrest-Silver-Spring-Hotel (2012)
- “Convicted Maryland Pimp Accused of Offering Teen for Sex,” Baltimore Sun, October 29 2013.
- “Owner of Two Rockville Spas Charged with Human Trafficking,” Bethesda Magazine, April 4 2016.
- https://www.washingtonpost.com/police-pair-charged-with-prostitution-forced-teen-to-have-sex-with-288-people (2016)
- http://tomhucker.com/cracking-down-an-trafficking (2017)
- https://wtop.com/police-rockville-massage-parlor-actually-a-house-of-prostitution (2020)
- https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/emily-zhang-lawrence-pleads-guilty-to-running-house-of-prostitution-in-rockville (2020)
- https://www.localdvm.com/owner-of-roses-spa-pleads-guilty-to-running-house-of-prostitution (2020)
- https://www.nbcwashington.com/rockville-man-arrested-for-sex-trafficking-prostitution (2022)
- https://www.msn.com/rockville-man-arrested-for-sex-trafficking-prostitution (2022)
- https://www.fox5dc.com/rockville-man-arrested-on-sex-trafficking-and-prostitution-charges (2022)
- https://wjla.com/arrested-sex-trafficking-prostitution-heartfields-road-could-be-other-victims (2022)
- https://wtop.com/montgomery-county/rockville-man-charged-with-sex-trafficking-in-silver-spring (2022)
- https://wtop.com/montgomery-county/man-arrested-charged-sex-trafficking-in-florida/ (2022)
- https://wjla.com/silver-spring-man-charged-sex-trafficking-prostitution-police-multiple-counts-montgomery-county (2023)
- https://bethesdamagazine.com/women-who-took-cleaning-jobs-were-forced-into-prostitution (2023)
- https://wtop.com/montgomery-county/victims-sought-in-maryland-sex-trafficking-ring-run-by-new-york-woman/ (2023)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- https://patch.com/silverspring/police-silver-spring-man-busted-in-prostitution-sting (2013)
- https://www.wmar2news.com/news/region/howard-county/eight-men-arrested-in-undercover-prostitution-sting (2018)
- https://patch.com/maryland/rockville/police-shut-down-rockville-spa-call-it-house-prostitution (2019)
- https://wjla.com/rockville-massage-parlor-prostitution (2019)
- https://www.localdvm.com/police-charge-three-women-with-prostitution (2019)
- http://eastmoco.blogspot.com/prostitution-activity-reported-in (2020)
- https://www.ocala-news.com/34-year-old-silver-springs-woman-jailed-on-prostitution-and-drug-charges (2021)
Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
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