Paducah is a small city of approximately 25,000 residents, located in McCracken County in western Kentucky. The city has documented many cases of both prostitution and child sex trafficking. Responding to tips and complaints from the community, law enforcement officials became aware of web-based soliciting of prostitution, with the acts occurring on local motels.
In July 2012, the McCracken County Sheriff’s Department, with the assistance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), conducted operations to address the problem. They arrested prostituted women and a 17-year-old trafficked girl, as well as pimps and facilitators. They then responded to text messages and made an appointment with a sex buyer, who was arrested when he appeared. Police also posted an ad on Backpage and made two more arrests of sex buyers. The identities of the johns were released to the media.
The McCracken County Sheriff’s Office has staged at least two formal reverse stings in Paducah. In September 2012, officers initiated “Operation Losing Proposition” by placing a decoy advertisement to a website known for prostitution activity. A female undercover detective then spoke with male respondents and made arrangements to meet them at a hotel. MCSO officers arrested the men after they agreed to exchange sex for money. The sting was conducted as part of an initiative to reduce drug and sex crimes in the county. A list of those arrested was released to the media, along with arrestee’s mugshots photos and other identifying information.
In September 2014, MCSO officers conducted a second reversal, this time in partnership with the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office. For the operation, law enforcement placed and responded to advertisements suggesting prostitution on a local website. Twelve men were arrested as a result; each had his name, age, hometown, and arrest photo released to the public. In the days following the investigation, media reported that one of the johns apprehended during the operation had been returned to jail after it was discovered he had violated bond previously set in nearby Hickman County for “third degree rape of a minor and unlawful transaction with a minor in the first degree.”
In August 2018, a man was arrested for attempting to buy sex from a prostituted woman. Detectives began an investigation after receiving a tip about possible prostitution and drug activity at a hotel on Hinkleville Road. Detectives learned tha a woman staying at the hotel had posted online ads with an escort service believed to be involved with prostitution. McCracken County detectives and deputy Marshals conducted surveillance in the area of the hotel, which led to the identification of the suspect, a Graves County fugitive wanted in connection with a burglary. After being pulled over and arrested, detectives confirmed that the man had visited the prostituted woman at the hotel. An undercover detective contacted the woman in the online ad, she responded and agreed to perform sex in return for money. The man was booked into the McCracken County Jail.
In January, 2019, seventeen people were arrested in a prostitution bust conducted in the Paducah area, drawing sex buyers from a much wider area including other states. McCracken County investigators had received complaints about local online ads for prostitution on adult websites. Undercover detectives placed ads and responded to ads from January 14 through 17, and made agreements with persons believed to be prostitutes placing the ads, as well as those that responded to ads placed by detectives during the investigation.
- McCracken County Sheriff’s Department, Drug Division
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF)
- Web-Based Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- “Alleged Prostitution Discovered in Paducah,” West Kentucky Star, July 19 2012.
- “14 Arrested Including 2 Juveniles in Prostitution Sting”, CBS/KFVS-TV 12, July 20 2012.
- http://www.kfvs12.com/story/19072135/14-arrested-in-prostitution-sting/ (2012)
- “Benton Man Arrested along with Six Others in McCracken Prostitution Investigation,” Marshall County Daily, September 28 2012.
- “Eight Arrests Made in Prostitution Sting”, West Kentucky Star, September 28 2012.
- “McCracken County Prostitution Sting Lands 7 in Jail”, WPSD-TV 6, September 28 2012.
- “Several Arrested in Prostitution Sting Operation”, West Kentucky Star, September 18 2014.
- “Sheriff: 13 Prostitution Related Arrests Made in McCracken County”, CBS/KFVS-TV 12, September 18 2014.
- “13 Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” Paducah Sun, September 19 2014.
- “13 Prostitution Related Arrests”, SurfKY News Group, September 19 2014.
- “Prostitution Sting Leads to 13 Arrests in Paducah,” Jackson Sun, September 19 2014.
- “KY Man Arrested during Prostitution Sting Taken Back to Jail on Other Charge”, NBC/WAVE-TV 3, September 20 2014.
- http://www.paducahsun.com/news/local/investigation-leads-to-prostitution-arrest (2018)
- http://www.wsiltv.com/story/39811959/nearly-20-arrested-in-prostitution-bust (2019)
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Paducah Clergy in Vice Probe,” Kentucky New Era, February 13 1952.
- “Bookies, Gamblers in Paducah to Start Again,” Kentucky New Era, February 21 1952.
- “Paducah Police Given Scolding,” Kentucky New Era, February 21 1952.
- “Central Figure in McCracken County Commissioner’s Resignation Arraigned,” Bowling Green Daily News, September 21 1997.
- “Feds Are Reportedly Probing Paducah Prostitution Scandal,” Kentucky New Era, October 2 1997.
- “Paducah Pondering Prostitution Patronage,” Lexington Herald-Leader, October 25 1997.
- “Ex-Paducan Fire Marshal Indicted,” Bowling Green Daily News, December 5 1997.
- “Judge Dismisses Jury in Sex-Extortion Trial,” Bowling Green Daily News, March 7 1998.
- “Ex-Fire Marshal’s Second Sex Trial May 4,” Bowling Green Daily News, March 27 1998.
- “Grandma Owns up to Running a Brothel,” Bowling Green Daily News, June 23 1998.
- “Massage Parlors Targeted,” Evansville Courier, February 4 2003.
- “Police: Woman Ran Prostitution Service,” Paducah Sun, August 14 2009.
- “Prostitution Allegations Involve Several Hotels, Clients,” Paducah Sun, August 15 2009.
- “Two Arrested in Undercover Prostitution Sting,” NBC/WPSD-TV 6, July 15 2013.
- “Paducah Woman Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” NBC/WPSD-TV 6, May 20 2014.
- http://www.westkentuckystar.com/McCracken-County/Six-Face-Charges-Following-Prostitution-Sting (2016)
- http://www.wkms.org/undercover-mccracken-county-detectives-make-several-prostitution-arrests (2016)
- http://www.kfvs12.com/tip-leads-to-prostitution-arrest-in-mccracken-county-ky/ (2018)
- http://www.paducahsun.com/news/local/arrested-in-prostitution-sting/article (2019)