Prince William County is a county located on the Potomac River in the Commonwealth of Virginia with an approximate population of 380, 000, and is part of the Washington Metropolitan Area. Community members and businesses expressed concern about prostitution and sex trafficking. In response to these concerns, several investigations were conducted by partnering law enforcement agencies, and arrests were made for sex trafficking of minors, sex trafficking, and prostitution. For example, in 2016 Prince William County Police arrested seven men after running an internet sting operation targeting individuals seeking to buy sex with minors. Detectives posed as juveniles on social media, and the men who were arrested solicited sex acts and agreed to meet the undercover detective at a location in Prince William County. They faced charges including solicitation of prostitution and using a communication device to facilitate an offense against a child. The photos and identifying information about the arrestees were released to news outlets.
In August, 2019, detectives from the Prince William County Police, Special Investigations Bureau conducted a Commercial Sex Operation at a hotel in the Manassas area of the county. The objective of the operation was aimed to combat the illicit demand and solicitation of commercial sex services which has a direct connection to human trafficking. During the course of the operation, undercover detectives created online advertisements designed to solicit commercial sex that led to the contact of numerous suspects by phone and through social media. As a result, multiple suspects were identified and charged with offenses relating to the solicitation of commercial sex. The individuals arrested were identified in the news release, as were their charges in connection to offenses including solicitation of prostitution and frequenting a bawdy place. The code of Virginia defines a “bawdy place” as any place within or outside any building or structure that is used or is to be used for lewdness, assignation, or prostitution.
In the August 2019 press release, the Prince William County Police Department stated that it remains committed to the fight against human trafficking, and that anyone who solicits commercial sex plays a fundamental role in human sex trafficking by contributing to the need and demand of such activities. The Department, in conjunction with its community partners, recognizes that those who solicit commercial sex play an equal role in creating a marketplace that thrives on sexual abuse, violence, and child exploitation. In addition to enforcement, the Police Department seeks to continue community education efforts and awareness campaigns through our partnerships with federal, state, and local agencies. The Police Department has conducted training at area hotels, local churches and hospitals, and other County agencies. Before the end of 2019, the Police Department planned to partner with the Blue Campaign to continue the educational objective at other hotels in Prince William County. The Blue Campaign is a national public awareness campaign, designed to educate the public, law enforcement and other industry partners to recognize the indicators of human trafficking, and how to appropriately respond to possible cases.
- Prince William County Police Department
- Homeland Security Investigations
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Customs & Border Protection
- Transnational Gang Unit of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s
- Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force
- https://potomaclocal.com/2019/08/12/prince-william-charges-9-in-prostitution-sting/ (2019)
- https://www.princewilliamtimes.com/news/arrested-in-prince-william-prostitution-sting (2019)
- https://patch.com/virginia/manassas/nine-people-arrested-manassas-prostitution-sting-report (2019)