Putnam County, NY

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

Putnam County, New York, has a population of just under 100,000; its county seat is the city of Carmel. The county is included in the New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area and is located in the lower Hudson River Valley. Noteworthy cities and towns within the county include Mahopac, Southeast, Cold Spring, and Brewster. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been widespread, persistent, and well-documented problems throughout the county. Examples include a 2017 case in which two men pled guilty to charges related to paying for access to sexually abuse a 15-year-old boy from Cold Spring, a 2010 case in Mahopac in which an undercover operation led to the arrest of a massage parlor owner on prostitution charges, and a 2006 case in Southeast in which PCSO deputies raided a massage parlor and confirmed commercial sex was occurring on the premises.

More recently, in January 2021, a man was arrested and charged for being a driver for a prostitution ring that served Putnam County, specifically Brewster, that was part of a large international human smuggling and sex trafficking operation. In a complaint unsealed in February 2021, an FBI agent testified that the suspect would arrange appointments by text messages or WhatsApp. He would then drive the prostituted women from Queens to Putnam County, as he had been for the prior seven years. The man had contact information on his cell phone for 383 alleged sex buyers in the small town of Brewster alone. The investigation found that women from Central America were smuggled into the U.S. and then into the NY/NJ region to serve in forced prostitution. The women were driven to various locations, working 12 or more hours a day, servicing 20 to 40 men per shift. The organization charged, on average, $35 to $40 per 10- to 15-minute session, which generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in illicit proceeds each month. This money was allegedly collected by four men and was deposited into bank accounts in an attempt to avoid currency-transaction reporting requirements. The proceeds paid mortgages and other property maintenance expenses on properties owned in New Jersey and Florida. The organization kept 50 percent of the daily proceeds. The victims were given the other 50 percent. Still, their money was often used to satisfy a trafficking debt and/or wired to sex traffickers in the Puebla and Tenancingo regions of Mexico. The Putnam County driver admitted to FBI agents that he was aware that many of the women he transported were being coerced or forced into prostitution. The FBI said agents observed him drop off and pick up women to Brewster over a three-month period in early 2020, typically to apartments in multi-family houses.

Among the local efforts to address such problems is the use of tactics targeting demand. For example, the Mahopac police have conducted at least one reverse sting, a “spin-off” from a conventional sting targeting providers of commercial sex. In 2006, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office arrested two women for charges of prostitution and acquired several cell phones used to arrange illegal commercial sex encounters. The seized phones were used to run a reverse sting which led to the arrest of several sex buyers. The names and hometowns of all arrested men were reported in the local newspaper. In the aforementioned Cold Spring case, the two sex buyers were arrested and had their identities publicized in news outlets.

Key Partners

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Loss of Employment:

Background on Sex Trafficking and Prostitution in the Area:

State New York
Type County
Population 97936
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