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Scottsdale is a city of approximately 255,000 residents, located in Maricopa County, Arizona near Phoenix and Mesa. Prostitution activity, including cases of sex trafficking of both minors and adults, has been documented in the community for several decades. Incidents of targeted assaults on individuals selling sex have also been documented locally.
In their efforts to reduce prostitution locally, the Scottsdale Police Department has conducted several reverse stings targeting adults attempting to solicit acts of commercial sexual abuse with minors. In early spring 2016, the Arizona Republic reported the arrests of two sex buyers after the men arranged to meet and pay what they thought was a minor girl for commercial sexual abuse. The “girls” were, in fact, undercover SPD officers. The men reportedly communicated with the decoys over a phone-based messaging app. The identities of the arrested men were publicized in the press. In April 2016, SPD officers announced they had arrested six sex buyers in a sting using decoy advertisements, but did not specify the platform used by law enforcement. All of the men were charged with attempting to purchase sexual abuse with a minor; all of the men’s identities again were disclosed in local news outlets.
Scottsdale police frequently participates in collaborative web-based reverse stings that cover multiple jurisdictions. For example, in August, 2021, Special Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) joined the East Valley Human Trafficking Taskforce (EVHTTF) on a two-day “Buyer Reduction” sting operation, which resulted in 18 arrests. The operation was led by the Mesa Police Department, and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the Scottsdale and Tempe Police departments also participated in the investigation. Law enforcement conducted online chats that offered prostitution services in an effort to identify and apprehend customers of sex trafficking victims. All 18 men arrested over the two days solicited adult prostitution, and one was also charged of attempted sex conduct with a minor, child prostitution with a minor under the age of 15, money laundering and prostitution. HSI and local law enforcement agencies stated that they routinely partner to conduct operations of this type in a continuous effort to reduce the demand that fuels trafficking and exploitation of children in their communities. The identities of the suspects were included in press releases.
In May, 2022, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that an undercover operation targeting commercial sex and human trafficking led to 43 arrests. While most of the suspects were charged with prostitution, other counts stemming from the undercover “Spring Fling” operation include child sex trafficking, drugs, and misconduct involving weapons. In a press release, ICE said that the focus was on hotel prostitution and street prostitution enforcement, and the suspects were arrested when they allegedly solicited and/or brokered deals for various sex acts. ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations collaborated with local police departments in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Gilbert, and Surprise, as well as the Arizona State University Police Department.
In November, 2021, 30 people were arrested in Operation “Deja Boo” that targeted sex buyers involved in child sex trafficking and those with the intent of luring minors for sexual exploitation. The Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Chandler and Tempe police departments all participated, according to the Mesa Police Department.
In September, 2022, the law enforcement agencies made 21 arrests around the Valley for child sex crimes and human trafficking. Operation “Back to Skool” was a Valley-wide initiative in which undercover detectives placed ads on websites known to be common for suspects seeking illegal sex acts. The 21 arrested men arrested ranged from ages 23 to 62 years old, and their identities were disclosed in some news reports. The Scottsdale, Surprise, Goodyear, Peoria and Glendale police departments, as well as Homeland Security, U.S. Marshals and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, teamed up to conduct the web-based reverse sting.
Loss of employment is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred within the city. For example, in June, 2016 a man who served as teacher at Basis Charter School in Scottsdale was charged with solicited prostitution of a minor in Chandler, AZ. He had been caught in a web-based reverse sting operation and had been chatting on a social media site with someone whom he believed to be a 15-year-old girl. The 32-year-old man represented himself as a 16-year-old. Through the course of the conversation, he solicited oral sex with the minor in exchange for money. When the man went to meet his target in Chandler, he was met by undercover police and arrested. Basis Education Group announced that the faculty member had been terminated and Basis Scottsdale would cooperate fully in the police investigation.
- Scottsdale Police Department
- Basis Education Group
- Chandler Police Department
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “Police: Scottsdale Man Agrees to Sex with Undercover Cop Posing as 16-Year-Old Girl,” ABC/KNXV-TV 15, February 5 2016.
- “6 Men Arrested in Child Prostitution Bust in Scottsdale,” NBC/KPNX-TV 12, April 14 2016.
- “Six Men from All over the Valley Arrested by Scottsdale Police in Undercover Child Prostitution Bust,” ABC/KNXV-TV 15, April 14 2016.
- “Phoenix Man Sends Sexual Pictures to Scottsdale Officer Posing as Teen,” ABC/KNXV-TV 15, April 19 2016.
- https://www.ice.gov/hsi-phoenix-assists-multi-agency-operation-18-men-arrested-prostitution-and-other (2021)
- https://www.12news.com/30-arrested-for-alleged-child-sex-crimes-across-the-valley (2021)
- https://www.ice.gov/43-arrested-cited-drugs-weapons-crimes-against-children-hsi-phoenix-and-partnered (2022)
- https://justthenews.com/ice-arrests-43-child-sex-trafficking-prostitution-drugs-and-weapons (2022)
- https://ktar.com/police-in-surprise-make-21-arrests-in-child-sex-trafficking-sting/ (2022)
- https://yourvalley.net/surprise-police-arrest-21-in-child-sex-trafficking-operation (2022)
Sex Buyer Fired or Resigned Due to Arrest:
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Prostitution Ring Probed,” Prescott Courier, November 17 1982.
- “Scottsdale Police Arrest 2 in Offering Girl for Prostitution,” Arizona Republic, April 9 2012.
- “California Man Pleads Guilty to Interstate Transportation of Minor for Prostitution,” U.S. Federal News Service, September 19 2006.
- “Scottsdale Police Accuse Couple in Child-Prostitution Case,” Arizona Republic, May 11 2015.
- “Police: Woman Accused of Forcing Missing Scottsdale Teen into Prostitution,” Arizona Republic, October 23 2015.
- https://www.hstoday.us/ice-hsi-participates-in-multi-agency-human-trafficking-operation/ (2022)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Scottsdale Police Arrest 19 in Parlor Crackdown,” Prescott Daily Courier, August 7 2003.
- “Owners, Operators, Employees of Large-scale Prostitution and Money Laundering Business Plead Guilty,” U.S. Federal News Service, January 1 2006.
- “E.V. Prostitution Ring Busted: Apartments Raided; Man, Woman Arrested in Tempe,” Mesa Tribune, June 29 2006.
- https://www.eastvalleytribune.com/news/scottsdale-police-arrest-two-on-suspicion-of-prostitution (2007)
- “2 More Arrests in Prostitution Ring Bust at ‘Massage’ Parlors, Total of 7,” KTVK-TV 3, May 19 2010.
- “BRIEF: Mesa Home, Massage Business Searched in Scottsdale Prostitution Investigation,” East Valley Tribune, May 19 2010.
- “Operators of Multi-State Prostitution Ring Using Illegal Asian Immigrants Indicted for Conspiracy and Money Laundering; Organizers Rented Apartments, Advertised Women on Backpage.Com,” States News Service, March 4 2013.
- “Scottsdale Massage Therapist Accused of Prostitution,” Arizona Republic, October 10 2013.
- “Owners of Scottsdale-based Escort Company Arrested,” Arizona Republic, September 10 2014.
Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area: