Reno County is located in central Kansas, to the northwest of Wichita. It has a population of approximately 62,000, and the city of Hutchinson (pop. approximately 40,000) serves as the county seat. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented within Reno County. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. For example, in February, 2010, acting on a tip from Reno County’s Crime Stoppers unit, the Reno County Sheriff’s Office detectives conducted an undercover prostitution sting. They arrested a woman and her daughter-in-law on suspicion of prostitution. October, 2012, detectives from the Reno County Sheriff’s Office conducted a sting and arrested three women for prostitution and related offenses. In January, 2019, Hutchinson police arrested a local woman for prostitution after responding to complaints in the Bricktown neighborhood. A police news release from the department’s new Repeat Offender Unit said that detectives conducted an undercover operation and then served a search warrant at a residence on W. Ave. B. The woman was arrested on suspicion of promoting the sale of sexual relations, a felony, as well as prostitution and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. After receiving complaints form the community, extra surveillance and investigation occurred to build cases, obtain a warrant, and then obtain probable cause for promoting the sale of prostitution out of the woman’s house. In September, 2019, Hutchinson police arrested a 54-year-old woman for alleged prostitution at a local massage parlor. Detectives and officers with the department’s Repeat Offender Unit conducted a search warrant at a spa on North Lorraine, in response to receiving numerous reports of sexual acts being offered as part of the service. An undercover operation was conducted and a detective was offered a sexual act (which he declined), which confirmed the previous reports. During a search of the building, officers also found numerous items consistent with prostitution. The woman was arrested for promoting the sale of sexual relations. Her bond was set at $3,000. The investigation regarding the spa’s possible involvement within a larger organization.
Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies in their strategy for prevention and response. For example, in September, 2010, Hutchinson Police arrested two people from out of the area and placed them in the custody of the Reno County Jail, on drug and prostitution charges. One was a 40 year old man arrested for possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia, and patronizing prostitution.
In August, 2018 a man was indicted by a federal grand jury today for traveling to meet with an undercover law enforcement officer whom he believed was a teenage girl offering prostitution services. The 55 year old defendant was charged with one count of traveling across state lines with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor. The investigation began in June 2018 when an undercover employee with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was monitoring public message threads on a website known to be used to host discussion forums and private messaging services for the purpose of allowing communication regarding prostitution. The undercover decoy posted a review for a young “prostitute” in Hutchinson, Kan., and received a private message from the defendant in response. The man was a member of the website with over 500 posts detailing his experience across south-central Kansas and at Asian Massage Parlors. The undercover employee provided the man with the phone number for an FBI agent who was acting in an undercover capacity as a 16-year-old female. The man allegedly contacted the undercover agent, who told him that she was staying in Kansas City with her cousin’s boyfriend and her 13-year-old sister. The man asked for the 13-year-old’s phone number and for photos of both juveniles, and later agreed to meet with the 16 and the 13-year-olds for sexual activity in exchange for $140. When the man arrived at a coffee shop in Kansas City, Mo., he was arrested. The case was prosecuted in federal court by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and was investigated the Department of Health and Human Services, Officer of Inspector General, the FBI and the Wichita, Kan., Police Department. The case was pursued as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse.
- Reno County Sheriff’s Office
- Hutchinson Police Department
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Wichita Police Department
Web-Based Reverse Sting, Shaming:
- https://www.kansas.com/news/article1025360.html#storylink=cpy (2010)
- https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdmo/pr/kansas-man-indicted-traveling-illicit-sex-minor (2018)
Background on local prostitution:
- https://www.renogov.org/DocumentCenter/Reno County/Adult-Sex-Offender-Supervision-Handbook-PDF
- https://salinapost.com/2012/10/04/three-arrested-for-prostitution-in-hutchinson/ (2012)
- http://www.hutchpost.com/three-kansas-residents-busted-for-prostitution/ (2012)
- https://gatehousenews.com/24hoursofmeth/ (2018)
- https://www.acesconnection.com/g/hutchinson-ks-aces-connection/blog/my-story-human-trafficking-and-aces (2018)
- https://ojjdp.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh176/files/pubs/243838.pdf (2018)
- https://www.hutchnews.com/news/20190124/hutchinson-police-arrest-woman-for-promoting-prostitution (2019)
- https://www.kwch.com/content/news/Hutchinson-make-prostitution-arrest-at-local-massage-parlor-559401661.html (2019)
- https://www.hutchnews.com/news/20190904/police-raid-hutchinson-business-for-prostitution (2019)