Raleigh County, 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

Raleigh County, West Virginia has a population of about 75,000. Its county seat is the city of Beckley. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the county and its communities. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking. For example, in April, 2022 a federal grand jury found a Raleigh County man guilty of attempting to entice an underage girl into providing him with sexual images in exchange for vapes, cigarettes, and alcohol. The man was convicted of attempting to entice a 15-year-old girl into producing child pornography, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. The had man provided the teenager with the substances from April 1, 2020, to Jan. 12, 2021, in an attempt to get the girl to send him photos.

Community complaints about prostitution have led police to conduct prostitution operations. Reasoning that reducing demand would cause the market to contract and reduce the need for a supply to be present, the Beckley Police Department began conducting reverse stings in 2006. In that operation two volunteers who had an interest in the criminal justice field were used as decoys. They were both women in their early 20s. The decoys met with personnel from the Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office who gave them guidelines on what they could and could not do. In the following years, they conducted between one and two reverse stings per year. Police release to the media the names and ages of men arrested. A BPD representative stated they filmed one reverse sting in 2006, but have not afterward, determining that it was not necessary to make arrests. The BPD has also attempted public education, using the news media to try to talk to men about the health risks taken by engaging in buying sex.

In July, 2015, the Raleigh County district court tried a 45-year-old Princeton man charged with solicitation of a minor. According to testimony provided by the 5-year-old victim’s mother, the man offered her $104 “to have anal sex” with the child. The West Virginia State Police Digital Forensics Unit extracted information from a cell phone including a recorded interview between the defendant and a West Virginia State Police Trooper. The man admitted that he had discussed exchanging sex for money either online or via text message. The prosecution displayed a printed copy of text message exchanges between the man and the mother where the man told her the “younger the better” when discussing a girl, and they proceeded to discuss rates.  The man also requested nude photos of the child, and was charged with solicitation of images of a minor via computer and solicitation of sex with a minor (via computer).

In July, 2021, a Raleigh County man was sentenced to prison for trying to pay to sexually abuse two children, on charges of Patronizing a Victim of Sex Trafficking. He was sentenced to 3 to 15 years in prison. The man had answered a craigslist ad to have sex with a 14-year-old and 11-year-old in September of 2020. Law enforcement officers were stationed where the suspect was supposed to meet with the craigslist poster. Officers followed him and eventually made a traffic stop and arrested him, and the case was prosecuted by the Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney.

Key Partners

  • Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
  • Beckley Police Department

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking, Child Sexual Exploitation, Related CSAM in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Local Prostitution Ordinance:

State West Virginia
Type County
Population 74452
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