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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.
- Princeton Police Department
- Bluefield Police Department
- Southern Regional Drug & Violent Crime Task Force
National Assessment Survey and Interview (2012)
- “Princeton Police: ‘Doing Everything We Can to Get Rid’ of Prostitution”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, August 19 2008.
- “Prostitution Crackdown – Princeton Sets Standard for Other Towns”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, August 21 2008.
- “Undercover Stings Helping to Clean Up Mercer Street”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, August 22 2008.
- “Police, Task Force Arrest Nine for Solicitation”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, September 4 2010.
- “12 Charged with Attempting to Buy, Sell Sex in Princeton”, Princeton Times, June 18 2012.
- “Names Released in Undercover Prostitution Sting”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, June 18 2012.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 12”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, June 18 2012.
- “Police Arrest Three Johns”, Princeton Times, July 17 2014.
- “Three Arrested in Prostitution Stings in Princeton”, ABC/WOAY-TV 50, July 18 2014.
- “Three Men Arrested after Prostitution Sting in Princeton,” CBS/WVNS-TV 59, July 18 2014.
- https://wvva.com/three-arrested-in-princeton-prostitution-sting/ (2018)
- http://www.bdtonline.com/three-men-arrested-following-prostitution-sting-in-princeton (2018)
- https://www.wvnstv.com/mercer-county/three-men-arrested-for-trying-to-pick-up-prostitutes-in-princeton (2018)
- https://wvva.com/5-charged-in-princeton-prostitution-sting/ (2019)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Former Prostitute, Drug Abuser Hopes to Shed Light on Mercer Street Problems”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, May 26 2013.
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Police Arrest Three in Ongoing Prostitution Stings”, Princeton Times, August 29 2008.
- “3 Women Nabbed on Charges of Prostitution”, Princeton Times, February 27 2009.
- “Princeton Aims for Increased Police Presence on Mercer Street”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, March 9 2009.
- “Letters: Prostitutes Should Serve Jail Time”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, June 3 2009.
- “Officers Clear Mercer Street Corners”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, August 7 2009.
- “Prostitutes on the Move to Brushfork, Bluewell, Sheriff Says”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, September 20 2010.
- “Problem Solving, Police Efforts Help Curtail Prostitution”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, December 12 2010.
- “Local Authorities Continue to Target Prostitution”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, May 13 2011.
- “Local Police Begin Operations to Curb Prostitution in Area”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, April 12 2012.
- “Highland Avenue Resident Asks City to Curb Prostitution”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, June 12 2012.
- “Tougher Enforcement: Maximize Prostitution Penalties”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, June 14 2012.
- “Residents: Weak State Laws Make Crackdown on Illicit Activities Difficult”, Princeton Times, June 15 2012.
- “Anonymous Letter Calls for Solution to Prostitution Problems in Princeton”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, September 28 2012.
- “Regional Scourge — Prostitution Crackdown a Must”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, May 19 2013.
- “Prostitution Sting Yields Three Arrests”, Princeton Times, July 17 2013.
- “Three Alleged Prostitutes Arrested in Sting”, Princeton Times, July 26 2013.
- https://www.wvnstv.com/news/business-owners-fed-up-with-prostitution-in-the-area (2018)
Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
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