Robeson County, NC

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

Robeson County is a county in the southern part of North Carolina, and has a population of 116,000 residents. Its county seat is Lumberton, NC. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the county for decades. This activity and its ancillary crimes have generated residential complaints to local law enforcement. Among the more serious crimes associated with the county’s commercial sex market are targeted homicides against prostituted people and child sex trafficking. For example, in 2017, the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office and the Lumberton Police Department participated in Operation Cross Country XI. The 2017 operation was the 11th iteration of the FBI’s annual law enforcement action focused on recovering underage victims of prostitution and drawing the public’s attention to the problem of sex trafficking at home and abroad, that in total, resulted in the recovery of 84 sexually exploited juveniles and the arrests of 120 sex traffickers.

Efforts to reduce instances of prostitution in the county have been deployed such as reverse stings and shaming. The first street-level reverse sting in the county occurred in 1995 and was conducted by the Lumberton Police Department. The investigation resulted in the arrest of eight male sex buyers on soliciting prostitution charges. Since 1995, reverse sting operations have regularly been conducted by local, county, and federal agencies. For example, in October 2021, five men were arrested and charged following a prostitution sting operation by the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office in partnership with the Robeson County District Attorney’s Office, in addition to other law enforcement agencies. All five men were charged with solicitation of prostitution. One man was additionally charged with possession of a stolen firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The identities of the sex buyers were included in news reports. The Lumberton Police Department, Fayetteville Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assisted with the operation. It was unclear from reports whether the investigation was a street-level or web-based reverse sting operation.

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Web-Based Stings, Disclosure of Identities:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:

State North Carolina
Type County
Population 116328
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