Spotsylvania County is located in northern Virginia. Its population is roughly 130,000, and it is considered part of the Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the communities and unincorporated areas within the 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 2006, Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office detectives investigated prostitution occurring within massage parlors. In 2013, police reported that one suspect specialized in sex trafficking women who had substance addictions, and would coerce them by cutting off their supply if they refused his demands. In one instance, prosecutors said, the suspect had an accomplice deliver a Fentanyl patch to a 21-year-old woman he was prostituting at a hotel in Spotsylvania County; the woman died of an overdose.
To combat prostitution and sex trafficking in the area, local law enforcement agencies have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex, which provides the revenue stream driving all commercial sex and trafficking. To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office has conducted street-level reverse stings, and several web-based reverse stings focusing on men seeking sex with children. For example, in 2015, four men were arrested and faced felony charges stemming from an undercover operation in which a Spotsylvania County sheriff’s detective posed as a 13-year-old girl online. The department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Unit began an investigation aimed at those in search of child victims. The men were accused of using online chat rooms to arrange sexual liaisons with an undercover Spotsylvania detective posing as a young girl. The identities of the arrested men were included in press releases.
In February 2017, Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office announced during a press conference that eleven men were arrested in Spotsylania County from October 2016 through February 2017, charged with indecent liberties and electronic solicitation of a minor. Members of the Sheriff’s Office CEU searched internet chatting sites and online applications for online predators. The identities of all arrestees were publicized.
- Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office
- Child Exploitation Unit (CEU)
- Northern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children (NOVO/DC ICAC) Task Force
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- https://www.fredericksburg.com/news/crime_courts/child-sex-sting-in-spotsylvania-brings-arrests/ (2015)
- http://raycomgroup.worldnow.com/story/4-men-face-felony-changes-in-spotsylvania-child-sex-sting (2015)
- https://fredericksburg.today/2017/02/14/11-arrested-in-spotsylvania-undercover-online-predator-sting/ (2017)
- https://www.wsls.com/news/11-arrested-across-va-in-child-sex-sting (2017)
- https://wtvr.com/2017/02/14/spotsylvania-internet-sex-sting/ (2017)
- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2006/02/13/DI2006021300573.html?noredirect=on (2006)
- https://wtvr.com/2012/10/18/spotsylvania-county-prostituion-arrest/ (2012)
- https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/local/3-arrested-in-spotsylvania-county-prostitution-bust/65-368586370 (2012)
- https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/thirty-year-sentence-for-one-of-the-most-prolific-sex-traffickers-virginia-has-ever-seen (2016)