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Newark is a city of approximately 31,000 residents, located just southwest of Wilmington in New Castle County, Delaware. Prostitution has been reported in the community for at least two decades, with activities frequently concentrated in and around local motels. Additionally, in 2012 Newark drew the attention of federal law enforcement when a man was arrested and charged with sex trafficking of a minor and child pornography (i.e., child sexual abuse materials) after FBI officials discovered he had been compelling a 15-year-old girl to commit acts of prostitution at a Newark motel. Prior to his arrest, the trafficker took several pornographic photos of the minor and “advertised” her for sexual abuse online.
In an effort to reduce prostitution and trafficking in the community, the Newark Police Department conducted a web-based reverse sting in December 2014. Officers, working with agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations division, placed a decoy advertisement to a website known for prostitution. Undercover officers then arranged to meet the men who responded at a local motel. Law enforcement reportedly fielded calls and texts from as many as 22 men before ultimately arresting seven sex buyers; all of the arrestees’ names, mugshots, and other identifying information were disclosed to the public.
Following the investigation, representatives from the NPD and HSI were interviewed by the Newark Post about the impetus for the operation. They reported that, in addition to intercepting sex buyers, law enforcement launched the sting to gain information about local sex trafficking networks. To this end, “an HSI agent accompanied Newark Police during the sting and helped conduct interviews of the suspects, looking for ‘red flag indicators’ of human trafficking,” with the goal of “lean[ing] on the accused to open up about any past involvement with prostitutes in an effort to get information that could lead to human trafficking rings.”
In March 2018, the Newark Police Street Crimes Unit and Special Operations Unit conducted a web-based reverse prostitution sting utilizing a local hotel. Undercover officers placed a fictitious profile of a female on a webpage in the escort section to determine if sex buyers would solicit the female for prostitution. During the course of the investigation over 150 different telephone numbers called or texted the phone number placed in the add. The calls and texts were answered by undercover officers. Six men went to the hotel after requesting sex acts in exchange for money or drugs.
- Newark Police Department
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “Four Arrested in Sting: A Joint Operation between Dover and Newark Police,” Delaware State News, October 23 1996.
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “Newark PD Arrests 7 in Reverse Prostitution Sting,” WDEL-AM 1150, December 19 2014.
- “Seven Johns Arrested in Newark Sting,” Wilmington News Journal, December 19 2014.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 7 Arrests, But Real Focus Is on Human Trafficking; NPD, Feds Team up for Undercover Operation,” Newark Post, December 29 2014.
- “Undercover prostitution sting at Newark hotel leads to 6 arrests.” Delaware Business Now,
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Grand Jury Indicts N.J. Man on Sex Trafficking Charges Involving 15-Year-Old,” Newark Post, February 18 2012.
- “South Jersey Man Indicted in Delaware on Sex Trafficking and Child Pornography Charges,” Press Release, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware, February 18 2012.
- https://www.delcotimes.com/del-man-gets-21-years-in-prison-for-child-sex-trafficking-operation (2022)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Prostitution Ring Tip Leads to Gun, Cash, Traces of Drugs,” Newark Post, December 29 2009.
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