Pitt County is a county of roughly 175,000 residents in North Carolina. Greenville is the county seat and largest city.
In addition to supporting city-level efforts to reduce demand for prostitution locally, the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office has also staged at least two reverse stings at undisclosed locations within the county. In July 2016, PCSO deputies announced the completion of “Operation Casual Encounter,” a multi-stage, multi-month web sting targeting individuals attempting to solicit commercial sex online. Both sex buyers and sellers were targeted, as were individuals attempting to solicit (non-commercial) sex from minors. Thirty-six individuals were arrested after replying to decoy online advertisements and arranging to meet undercover officers at an undisclosed location. Among the arrestees were 16 men for reportedly “arranging to meet with prostitutes.” Following the arrests, the PCSO convened a press conference about the sting and displayed a poster with the names, arrest photos and other identifying information of all of the individuals arrested. Select media outlets publicized the identities of the individuals who had attempted to solicit sex from minors, but not those charged with prostitution-related offenses.
In April 2019, sixteen men were caught in a prostitution sting by Pitt County deputies. Warrants in some of the cases show that an undercover detective and another deputy were solicited. Detectives from the Street Crimes Unit, along with the Narcotics Unit, recently did the investigation into prostitution in the county. All sixteen men were charged with solicitation of prostitution.
- Pitt County Sheriff’s Office
- Pitt County District Attorney’s Office
- Web-Based Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- “36 Arrests Made in Pitt County Undercover Investigation,” CBS/WNCT-TV 9, July 13 2016.
- “Sex Sting Results in 36 Results,” Greenville Daily Reflector, July 13 2016.
- “SHERIFF: 36 Charged in Child Sex Solicitation Investigation,” NBC/WITN-TV 7, July 13 2016.
- https://www.witn.com/content/news/16-men-caught-in-Pitt-County-prostitution-sting (2019)
- http://www.reflector.com/News/2019/04/22/16-arrested-in-prostitution-sting.html (2019)
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Pitt Sheriff Applies for Trafficking Investigator,” Greenville Daily Reflector, August 12 2008.
- “Grant Funds Sheriff’s Effort to Gauge Human Trafficking,” Greenville Daily Reflector, March 19 2009.
- “Officials Target Human Trafficking,” Greenville Daily Reflector, September 21 2010.
- “Alleged Prostitution Network Leader Arrested,” Wilson Daily Times, February 4 2016.
- “Prostitution Ring Leader Arrested in Pitt County,” CBS/WNCT-TV 9, February 4 2016.