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North Miami is a suburban city of 60,000 located in northeast Miami-Dade County, FL, about 10 miles north of Miami. The city lies on Biscayne Bay. Prostitution and child sex trafficking are well-documented problems in the area and have generated many complaints to police. In an effort to address local consumer-level demand for commercial sex, the North Miami Police Department and Miami-Dade County Police Department have conducted several street-level reverse stings, at times using half a dozen undercover female officers as decoys. For example, a reverse sting in 2008 involved five decoy officers and approximately 70 officers on support teams; the sting resulted in the arrest of 62 sex buyers. This particular operation was a part of the federal initiative to combat sex crimes against children through domestic sex trafficking, operated by the FBI and the Justice Department called “Innocence Lost.” Miami was among the first 13 cities assigned an “Innocence Lost” task force. In 2008, there were a total of 23 task forces set up in cities around the country. Miami was one of the first cities assigned a task force due to the city having “one of the highest levels of juvenile prostitution in the country,” said Sgt. Kelly Sullivan of the Miami-Dade Police Department Innocence Lost Vice Task Force. The FBI worked with local law enforcement to plan stings targeting pimps/sex traffickers and to rescue minors, but they also conducted “prostitution reversal stings” targeting sex buyers.
“Lost Innocence” investigations typically consist of the incorporation of numerous demand reduction tactics, one being street-level reverse stings, where decoy officers and a backup team arrest sex buyers once potential buyers state a price and sexual act. The sex buyers are then brought into the station to be booked and swabbed for DNA. “One of the main purposes of this detail is to get DNA on file from many of these sexual predators,” said Lt. Steve Czyzewski, of the Miami-Dade Police Department. “It’s a really effective crime-fighting tool.” A news report on this reverse sting said that many of the arrested men would attend a John School — a class for first-time offenders — and the charges would be dropped; this probably referred to the program in Miami called Demand More.
Miami-Dade County John School:
In 2018, The Office of the State Attorney of Miami-Dade County introduced a pre-trial diversion (PTD) program for non-violent, first-time offenders facing misdemeanor prostitution charges. The program, called Demand More, was the first of its kind for Miami-Dade County and sought to educate those charged with these types of misdemeanor violations about the dangers and realities associated with prostitution and human trafficking. Demand More has two tracks: one for prostituted persons and one for sex buyers. For prostituted persons, it provides counseling and ancillary services to assist them in overcoming the challenges that have kept them in the cycle of prostitution. For sex buyers, it exposes them to their role in the perpetuation of prostitution and the horrors of human trafficking. Overall the program aims at reducing demand for prostitution and sex trafficking through educational services for both prostituted persons and sex buyers in Miami-Dade County.
- Miami-Dade County: Pre-Trial Diversion (PTD) Program, Demand More
- Miami-Dade County Year in Review, 2018
- Miami-Dade County Year in Review, 2019
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Prostitution Stings Net Many Repeat Offenders”, Miami Herald, August 17 2011.
- “Police Say Pair Wooed, Pimped 13-Year-Old”, Miami Herald, October 25 2012.
- “Task Force Nabs North Miami Man who Lured Teens into Prostitution”, Miami Herald, April 22 2014.
- “3 in Club Madonna Sex Trafficking Case Take Pleas”, Miami Herald, October 10 2014.
- “Sex Trafficker Faces Life in Prison”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, September 11 2014.
- “Man and Woman Charged in Sex Trafficking of Teen, Woman: Miami-Dade Police,” NBC/WTVJ-TV 6, April 28 2015.
- “Sex Trafficker Admits Guilt, Faces 15 Years,” Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, June 26 2015.
- https://usaherald.com/miami-man-arrested-for-human-trafficking-across-state-lines/ (2022)