Portsmouth, OH

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Portsmouth is a city of just over 20,000 residents, situated along the northern banks of the Ohio River in Scioto County, Ohio about 30 miles northwest of Ashland, Kentucky. Commercial sex sales, including the forced prostitution of minors, have been reported in the community for several decades.

Portsmouth has also documented at least one case of prostitution-related homicide; in August 2014, the body of a teenage girl was pulled from the Ohio River in Portsmouth. In the weeks that followed, a 46-year-old man from Racine, Ohio, was arrested and charged with murdering the teen after the two allegedly “met over the internet, where she had placed an ad on Craigslist.com.” The man was charged with “felony charges of tampering with evidence, abuse of a corpse, and two counts of compelling prostitution.”

In an effort to reduce illegal sex sales in the area, the Portsmouth Police Department has conducted reverse stings since at least 2008, if not earlier. Operations are typically conducted at street level, with one or more female undercover officers posing as decoys. Law enforcement continue to target prostituted women and girls for arrest, and often run “john” stings in parallel with stings targeting sellers of sex. Once arrested, all individuals charged with prostitution-related offenses may have their names released to the public.

Key Partners

  • Portsmouth Police Department

Key Sources

State Ohio
Type City
Population 20302
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