Princeton, WV

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

Princeton is a city in Mercer County, West Virginia, with a population of roughly 6,000, located near Bluefield. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been documented as problems occurring in the city for decades, generating numerous complaints to police from businesses and residents.  Among the more serious crimes associated with local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. Girls as young 15-years-old are known to have engaged in street prostitution (i.e., child sex trafficking) in the city, and in one case a man killed his wife because she refused to stop working in prostitution.

To address the issue, the Princeton Police Department has at times routinely conducted stings targeting sex buyers as well as prostituted women. Often, officers from the Bluefield Police Department have collaborated with the PPD in their efforts, in part to compensate for each city’s limited resources available for prostitution operations. Recent news reports have suggested a decline in prostitution in both areas due to these PPD/BPD operations, along with the members of the Southern Regional Drug & Violent Crime Task Force.  However, police in nearby Brushfork and Bluewell have experienced increases in prostitution, and some believe that there may have been displacement caused by Princeton and Bluefield successfully applying pressure to their commercial sex markets.

Relatively recent examples of reverse stings include an operation in September 2018, in which three men were arrested along Thorn Street in Princeton,and charged with solicitation of prostitution. In addition, approximately 200 pills of methadone and oxycodone were recovered, and drug charges added for one of the arrested men. The sting took approximately 2 hours. The identities of the arrested men were released by police.

Key Partners

  • Princeton Police Department
  • Bluefield Police Department
  • Southern Regional Drug & Violent Crime Task Force

Key Sources

National Assessment Survey and Interview (2012)

Reverse Stings:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State West Virginia
Type City
Population 5798
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