New Castle County, DE

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

New Castle County, Delaware has a population of roughly 572,000 residents. Its largest communities are Newark and Wilmington. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in New Castle County. For example, a 2012 investigation resulted in the arrest of a man who sex trafficked a 15-year-old girl at numerous hotels throughout New Castle County. A more recent example includes operations conducted cases from February, 2022: two illicit massage establishments in Wilmington were shut down during an investigation by the new DOJ Human Trafficking Unit (HTU), according to an announcement by the Delaware Attorney General’s office. In June, 2022, a Wilmington man who helped run a “prostitution ring” in the region who was found guilty of sex trafficking in 2019 was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison. He was convicted by a federal jury of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors by force, fraud, or coercion, and of sex trafficking three minors by force, fraud, or coercion. Local prostitution-related violence includes multiple murders of prostituted women. This activity and its ancillary crimes has resulted in complaints to local law enforcement from residents and businesses. Targeted homicide and rape of prostituted women have also been reported to occur as a result of the local commercial sex market. The county also served as the operating base for a serial murderer who specifically targeted prostituted women in the 1980s.

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. For example, the New Castle County Police Department conducted a street-level reverse sting in October 2009. The operation, which employed multiple undercover female officers as decoys, resulted in the arrest of five sex buyers. Each was charged with solicitation and had his name reported to the local media. In addition to conducting city-level reverse stings in the county communities of Wilmington Manor and New Castle, the New Castle County Police Department instituted a formal identity disclosure policy in 2005. Although public release of arrestee identities was first seen in reports of 1989 arrests, in 2005 the New Castle County Police Department launched a website that featured the names and photographs of the 10 people (both buyers and prostituted persons) most recently convicted of prostitution and related charges. The page also listed the charges, date of conviction, date of offense, and community where the offense occurred. Police officials said they hoped the public nature of the Prostitution Conviction Page would serve as a deterrent to others who might otherwise commit the same crimes.

In June 2018, seven men were taken into custody after they solicited undercover New Castle County Police officers for sex. The women were posted in the Alban Park area to act as prostituted persons while patrol officers and detectives surveyed the neighborhood. Those who drove to the area had their vehicles towed by police, and all seven men were issued a criminal summons, then released. The men’s names and other identifying information were included in news releases. In January 2019, a web-based reverse sting apprehended 16 sex buyers in New Castle County .

Key Partners

  • New Castle County Police Department
  • Delaware State Police

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings:

Identity Disclosure:

Vehicle Seizure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Delaware
Type County
Population 571708
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