Othello, WA

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

Othello is a city of approximately 8,200 residents in Washington State, located in Adams County. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city and surrounding areas. This activity and its ancillary crimes have resulted in complaints to local law enforcement from residents and businesses. For example, in November 2007, two women were arrested in Othello on suspicions of prostitution and drug possession. They allegedly used a Juniper Street home in Othello for prostitution, according to the Grant County Sheriff’s Office. The arrests happened during an undercover sting by the Inter Agency Narcotics Enforcement Team (INET). The team is comprised of officers from the state patrol, Grant and Adams County Sheriff’s Offices and Ephrata, Othello, Quincy and Moses Lake police departments. One of the arrested women also had a warrant for third-degree theft. Police found cocaine at the home during their investigation. Othello Police asked for the special surveillance because of public concerns about prostitution and drug problems in town.

Efforts to reduce local commercial sex activity have included those focused on reducing the demand for commercial sex by targeting sex buyers. For example, in December 2021, a man was arrested and held on $20,000 bail after allegedly attempting to meet a minor with the intention of sexually abusing them in exchange for money, in the park lot of an Othello public swimming pool. He was arrested in the pool’s parking lot following nearly a weeklong investigation. The case began  when an Othello police detective responded to an ad on a website known for advertising prostitution services. The detective initiated a text conversation with the man, where the detective played the role of a 13-year old girl who wanted to have sex for the first time, records showed. In a series of text messages, the detective and suspect agreed the suspect would drive to Othello for the purpose of having sex with the teenager, and was eventually arrested. The offender was arraigned in Adams County Superior Court for second-degree attempted rape of a child and prostitution.

In April 2022, eight people were arrested and faced charges following a “Human Sex Trafficking Demand Reduction Sting” in Othello. Officers said they prioritized the operation after receiving information that individuals were traveling to Othello believing that the police department did not have the resources to act against sex trafficking. Othello Police conducted the operation in partnership with the Moses Lake PD Street Crimes Unit, and targeted people seeking to pay a young adult female for sex. All those arrested were charged with Patronizing a Prostitute, while one was also charged with Promoting Prostitution in the 2nd Degree. The identities of the sex buyers were included in press releases.

In July 2022,  Othello Police Department’s Street Crimes detectives conducted an additional “Human Sex Trafficking Demand Reduction Operation,” in which a 47-year-old Ellensburg man was arrested after traveling to Othello with the intent of meeting a 13-year-old girl to sexually abuse her in exchange for money. The man, who was employed by the Department of Homeland Security, was booked into the Adams County Jail and charged with attempted commercial sex abuse of a minor, attempted 2nd degree child rape, and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. The Department of Homeland Security was fully cooperating with the investigation.

In September, 2022 another “Sex Trafficking Demand Reduction Sting” was conducted by the Washington State Department of Corrections and Othello’s police force, and yielded six arrests. According to a post on social media, Othello Police officials said the operation targeted individuals who intended to pay a young adult female for sexual abuse. Police prioritized this crime after receiving information that individuals were coming to the Othello community with the mistaken belief that local police do not have the resources to act against it.

Key Partners

State Washington
Type City
Population 8241
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