Richland, WA

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

Richland is a city of roughly 62,000 residents in Eastern Washington state, located in Benton County, WA. The cities of Pasco, Richland, and Kennewick form the metropolitan area known as the Tri Cities. Prostitution and sex trafficking are well documented problems in the Tri-Cities area. For example, in 1981, the Richland Police Department participated in a multi-agency raid into three Pasco homes suspected of being brothels. The year long investigation, consisting of almost 20 hours of surveillance footage and 70 police officers, resulted in the arrest of 12 individuals on various prostitution and related charges and the questioning and photographing of 76 individuals who were also inside the homes during the operation. In 2010, the Benton County Court ordered a Richland mortgage banker linked to a prostitution ring to serve jail time after he admitted to soliciting sex from three female teenagers, two of whom were under 18. A serial killer of prostituted women is known to have buried at least one victim in Richland.

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. The Richland Police Department has conducted reverse sting operations. For example, in August of 2017, a combined street-level and web-based reverse sting was conducted by the Benton County Sheriff’s Office in collaboration with the Richland Police Department and the Kennewick Police Department. The operation resulted in the arrest of six male sex buyers. All of the arrestees had posted (or responded to) sex ads online, and met with undercover officers at local hotels to pay or engage in commercial sex. After discussing payments for the service and exchanging money an arrest signal was given, suspects were arrested by the arrest team who were waiting in the next room. The men and women were held at Benton County Jail. The women were charged with prostitution; men were charged with soliciting prostitution.

State Washington
Type City
Population 61929
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