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Northport is a city in Tuscaloosa County in the west central part of Alabama, located on the Black Warrior River across from downtown Tuscaloosa. Its population is approximately 26,000. Prostitution has been well documented problems in the city for years, and sex trafficking has presented problems throughout the county – including Northport – as well. The local sex trade has generated complaints to police and additional crimes, such as drug and weapons offenses, and the assault and robbery of sex buyers. For example, in June, 2019, a prostituted woman was charged with sexually torturing a man who was under the influence of GHB, took videos of the sexual assault, and stole the victim’s car. She was arrested by Northport police officers who believed she was driving a stolen car. While searching her phone, the officers found videos that showed her sexually assaulting the victim. The investigators used data from the video, identified and spoke with the victim, and determined that the victim was physically helpless at the time of the assault, drugged and also bound with duct tape around his mouth, wrists and ankles.
In their efforts to reduce commercial sex activity and all its related crimes, local law enforcement agencies have implemented demand reduction tactics. For example, in February, 2016, police in Tuscaloosa and Northport arrested eight men on after conducting an undercover operation focused on men who solicit online prostitution along the Skyland Corridor. In November, 2020, an undercover operation focused on soliciting prostitution in the Tuscaloosa area netted 14 arrests this past weekend, including three men who sought to have sex with minors. Fourteen people were arrested on a total of 19 charges. Seven of the 19 charges were Class A and Class B felonies. The identities of the arrested men were publicly disclosed. The operation was conducted by investigators with the West Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force, which is comprised of officers with the Tuscaloosa and Northport police departments, the University of Alabama Police Department, and the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.
In February, 2022, fifteen men were arrested by the West Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force for soliciting prostitution, the result of a two-day undercover operation in Northport. The identities of the arrested men were publicly disclosed. Charges in addition to soliciting prostitution included drug and weapons violations. After the sting, authorities emphasized that the arrests were part of an ongoing effort to curb demand for sexual services. Task force commander Capt. Phil Simpson said:
“If buyers were not seeking commercial sexual services, sex trafficking would no longer be profitable. We hope these operations targeting buyers show that we take this very seriously. Our goal is to prevent future exploitation of human trafficking victims who are forced or coerced into prostitution.”
In April, 2022, a guilty plea by one of the arrestees, a former University of Alabama vice president. on a misdemeanor charge of soliciting prostitution was set aside by a judge after the man paid fees and completed a “Johns Education and Awareness Program.” He resigned his executive position at the University of Alabama (in Tuscaloosa) following his arrest.
- West Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force
- Northport Police Department
- Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office
- Tuscaloosa Police Department
Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure, John School:
- https://www.wbrc.com/tuscaloosa-northport-police-arrest-8-men-for-solicitation-of-prostitution/ (2016)
- https://abc3340.com/police-arrest-8-for-solicitation-of-prostitution (2016)
- https://www.tuscaloosanews.com/undercover-prostitution-sting-nets-14-arrests-tuscaloosa-area (2020)
- https://www.cbs42.com/arrested-for-prostitution-one-city (2022)
- https://www.wtvy.com/15-arrested-west-alabama-soliciting-prostitution/ (2022)
- https://www.cbs42.com/15-arrested-in-northport-prostitution-sting/ (2022)
- https://www.wvua23.com/12-arrested-in-undercover-sting-over-weekend/ (2022)
- https://ourcommunitynow.com/15-arrested-in-northport-prostitution-sting (2022)
Background on Local Prostitution, Sex Trafficking, Related Crimes:
- “Alabama Laws Concerning Prostitution Vague,” Tuscaloosa News, February 20 1984.
- “Police Open Substation on 14th Avenue,” Tuscaloosa News, July 22 1998.
- “Prostitution Scheme Turns Violent with Toddler Present,” ABC/WBMA-TV 33, July 9 2012.
- “Undercover Operation Nets Arrests in Tuscaloosa,” NBC/WVTM-TV 13, October 7 2013.
- https://www.al.com/news/tuscaloosa/2017/08/tuscaloosa_police_arrest_33_me.html (2017)
- https://www.alreporter.com/human-trafficking-remains-an-alabama-problem/ (2019)
Prostitution Related Violence:
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