Opelika, AL

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

Opelika is a city of about 32,000 residents that serves as the county seat of Lee County, AL. It is a principal city of the Auburn-Opelika Metropolitan Area, and is located in the eastern part of the state. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of Lee County. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market are sex trafficking, child endangerment, and violence committed against people involved in these transactions. Alabama has also been identified by federal and local agencies as “home to a sex-trafficking super-highway,” the stretch of I-20 between Atlanta, GA, and Birmingham, AL, which is used by over 10 million people each year and is a road used by sex trafficking networks.

Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies in their strategy for prevention and response. For example, in 2016, police arrested 12 people and three underage girls were taken into custody after investigators conducted a prostitution sting. Investigations into sex trafficking operations by the Opelika Police Department led to several local hotels that were being used for prostitution. The year-long investigation began when officers responded to a trespassing call at local hotel in June 2015. Officers found a 16-year-old girl from a rural Lee County area who was at the hotel because she was being sex trafficked. Further investigation found two other girls being sex trafficked as well. One girl was a 17-year-old from Opelika and the other was a 14-year-old runaway from northern Alabama. All three girls were taken into protective custody. During the investigation, law enforcement officials discovered that several area hotels were unknowingly being used to conduct prostitution-related activities. A woman was charged with two counts of first degree human trafficking. Six men were arrested and charged with soliciting a prostitute and their identities were revealed in news releases. They were charged with misdemeanors and prosecuted through Opelika Municipal Court.

Investigations can also result in the arrest of sex buyers and those sexually exploiting children. For example, in June 2021 a man was convicted on human trafficking charges for keeping a 13-year-old girl in a house and plying her with drugs so he and other men could sexually assault her. The man could receive a sentence of life without parole at a sentencing hearing set for July 2021. Five other people were awaiting trial in the case. A Lee County jury convicted the man after prosecutors presented evidence showing he kept the youth in a “trap house,” where he and other men sexually abused her and gave her drugs. The girl had run away from the Lee County Youth Development Center.
State Alabama
Type City
Population 31538
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