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Northampton is a city of approximately 29,000 residents in western Massachusetts. It is the county seat of Hampshire County and is an affluent community in the “Five College” area (Smith, Amherst, UMass Amherst, Holyoke, Hampshire are all within 10 miles of one-another) with a well-documented presence of prostitution and sex trafficking. For example, in 2017 four individuals were indicted on charges of human trafficking, prostitution, and money laundering as a result of an investigation into illegal massage parlors in Northampton, Hadley, Agawam and East Longmeadow. The suspects were accused of trafficking as many as 10 women from New York to western Massachusetts and Framingham and then forcing them into sexual servitude. The women were required to perform sex in exchange for money inside the massage parlors, and were forced to turn over most of the money they made to the accused, according to the Massachusetts attorney general’s office. The indictments were the result of a statewide operation in December 2016 targeting massage parlors that resulted in several arrests. Each was indicted on a variety of charges including trafficking in persons for sexual servitude, conspiracy to traffic persons for sexual servitude, money laundering, and deriving support from prostitution.
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, in 2017 a web-based reverse sting was conducted. The operation featured an online advertisement showcasing “partially clothed females.” Buyers who contacted them and arranged to meet at a hotel were arrested once they asked for sex and made a cash offer. The joint sting operation between the state attorney general’s office and the Northampton Police Department yielded 10 arrests. The men were largely from western Massachusetts, although some came to Northampton — allegedly to buy sex — from as far away as Rutland, Vermont, and Wyantskill, New York. All of the men appeared individually before a judge in Northampton District Court, where they all pleaded not guilty to sexual conduct for a fee. Two of the men, however, admitted to “sufficient facts,” paid a $500 fee, and had their cases continued for six months. The names, ages, and cities of residence for the arrestees were publicly released.
- Northampton Police Department
- Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
Web-Based Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure:
- http://www.gazettenet.com/Northampton-police-arrest-10-men-on-prostitution-charges (2017)
- http://wrsi.com/northampton-prostitution-sting-arrests-10-men (2017)
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- http://www.masslive.com/northampton_massage_parlor_got (2016)
- http://wwlp.com/4-arrested-10-victims-found-in-western-mass-human-trafficking-investigation (2016)
- http://www.recorder.com/Sunderland-couple-denies-sex-trafficking-charges (2016)
- https://www.amherstbulletin.com/Human-trafficking-operations (2016)
- http://www.masslive.com/4_people_with_western_mass_tie (2017)
- https://www.recorder.com/Alleged-Valley-sex-trafficking-ringleaders-indicted-face-additional-charges (2017)