Springfield, VA

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

Springfield is a census-designated place of approximately 33,000 residents, located in Fairfax County, Virginia in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking. For example, Springfield previously drew national attention in spring 2012, when local law enforcement and FBI officials uncovered a gang-controllled teen sex trafficking ring operating in Fairfax County. The operation’s “ringleader”, as well as two of the other four men arrested and charged with compelling the prostitution of a minor, were from Springfield. During the investigation, officers identified at least 8 underaged female victims. In a September 2012 press release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia stated that the traffickers “provide[d] the victims with drugs and alcohol, and [drove] them to area neighborhoods… including Commerce Street in Springfield… [where they] were instructed to walk through apartment buildings and townhouse complexes, going door-to-door to solicit customers while accompanied by a male bodyguard from the gang… victims were [also] instructed to find apartments with multiple males inside to minimize walking in the open and to maximize profit. [The traffickers] also advertised their victims through online sites such as Craigslist.org and Backpage.com and solicited customers for ‘in-call’ prostitution services.”

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. In August 2013, Fairfax County Police Department officers conducted a large-scale reverse sting that used the web to apprehend sex buyers. According to The Washington Post, “23 men were arrested after communicating over the Internet with undercover officers they believed were ‘prostitutes'” and arranging to meet the officers at hotels in Springfield, Tysons Corner, Falls Church, and Herndon. The FCPD did not release the names of the arrestees, nor did they disclose the number of sex buyers arrested at each location.  Complaints to police from business owners and residents played a roll in the decision to address the demand side of the local commercial sex and trafficking market.

Some local arrests of sex buyers are the result of investigating allegations against real victims as opposed to the product of sting operations using police decoys. For example, in April, 2001 a Fairfax County detective conducted an investigation of a robbery of a man who identified himself as the business owner of business on Fullerton Road. In the course of the investigation, the detective observed homemade bedrooms, records and documents indicative of prostitution.  Another assault investigation occurred on July 14, 2001, at the same address. In May 2002, a “concerned citizen” contacted police and stated that the same business was involved with prostitution as well, which led to a police surveillance in September 2002, after business hours where they observed a high volume of short-term traffic, consisting of male subjects coming and going. According to an affidavit, on Sept. 6, 20 to 30 male subjects arrived and left 20 minutes later, and this activity was repeated several times with different numbers of men throughout the month. This and other evidence of prostitution led to surveillance followed by multiple arrests.  Among the arrests were three men who were charged with “frequenting a bawdy house” and other offenses.

Key Partners

  • Fairfax County Police Department
  • Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force

Key Sources

Brothel Raids with Sex Buyer Arrests:

Web-Based Reverse Stings:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Virginia
Type City
Population 32960
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