St. Louis County, MO

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

St. Louis County is located in the far eastern portion of Missouri. It is bounded by the city of St. Louis and the Mississippi River to the east, the Missouri River to the north, and the Meramec River to the south.  The population is approximately 1 million.

Prostitution and sex trafficking activity in the County have been well-documented, since the 1800s. Prostituted women from the city and surrounding county have also been targeted by at least on serial killer, Maury Travis. Travis focused on killing “drug addicts and prostitutes” in the city and neighboring East St. Louis, Illinois. More recent examples of sex trafficking include a case in 2013 in which two teenage girls called police for help in their escape from a pimp. The survivors, aged 17 and 19, had climbed through a bedroom window to escape from a sleeping man they said held them captive, and they told officers that a third teen didn’t get away and they wanted police to go back for her. Police recovered the third girl, age 16.  The man was arrested and St. Louis County prosecutors charged him with two counts of sex trafficking of a child and one count of trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation. In April, 2023, it was discovered that underage teens being sold for sexual abuse in a room in a St. Louis County hotel, turned out to be missing juveniles from Texas. Court records reportedly indicated the 16 and 17 year old victims were wards of the Texas Department of Children and Family Services, which had reported them missing from the Dallas area. The girls were rescued in February 2023 by U.S. Marshals and a special regional St. Louis County Police Task Force.

Among the tactics used to address prostitution and sex trafficking are those focused on consumer-level demand.  For example, in June 2017, fourteen people were arrested during a web-based reverse sting operation conducted by the St. Louis County Police Multijurisdictional Human Trafficking Task Force and collaborating agencies.  The target was consumer level demand, specifically those seeking to purchase sex from potential human trafficking victims.  The investigation concluded with 14 people alleged to have tried to purchase sex from potential trafficking victims between June 19, 2017, and June 22, 2017, at various locations within St. Louis County and St. Charles County. The names, ages, and addresses of the 14 individuals were listed in news reports.   Thirteen of those arrested were from the St. Louis area, one was from Michigan.

Key Partners

State Missouri
Type County
Population 997187
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