Suffolk County, NY

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Shaming
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Letters
Cameras
Web stings
License suspension

Suffolk County is a county of approximately 1.5  million residents, occupying the central and eastern portion of Long Island, New York. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been identified as substantial and longstanding problems in many areas of Long Island.  In 2018 the Suffolk County Police Department announced that is had established a permanent human-trafficking investigation unit that would focus on those who force women, girls and boys into prostitution, often to support other criminal activity, such as drug dealing or gangs.  The team was initially staffed by six detectives, including a commanding officer, and two police officers, and had been operating as a temporary unit since May 2017.

The County has hosted high-end, international prostitution or “escort” rings, as well as low-level local and regional operations facilitated by Craigslist and Backpage (and other websites since those two sites came under scrituy of law enforcement and legislators), and the laundering of money gained through prostitution and sex trafficking.  Problems associated with prostitution throughout both Nassau and Suffolk Counties include child sex trafficking, as well as at least two serial killers and possibly single-victim murderers who specifically targeted prostituted women. For example, in Bloods gang member from Deer Park was arraigned for his role in a sex-trafficking ring in which he used drugs and fear of violence to force women into prostitution. We was arrested at a Plainview hotel following a three-month investigation by the Suffolk County Police Department’s Human Trafficking Unit, and then pleaded not guilty to four counts of sex trafficking and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. A Suffolk County Judge issued protection orders for 19 women who felt threatened by the defendant, and prosecutors alleged the man had forced dozens of women into prostitution since 2014.

To address the demand underlying the area’s commercial sex market, which provides the revenue stream for all sex trafficking, the Suffolk County Police Department has conducted several street-level reverse stings since at least the early 1990s. As a warning to other sex buyers, police may release arrested johns’ names to the local media.  In December 2005, Suffolk County police collaborated with officers from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office to conduct a web sting. The operation, dubbed “Operation John 5.0”, targeted solicitation on internet sites like Craigslist and Backpage.com. In just under two months, law enforcement arrested a total of 21 individuals for attempting to purchase or sell sex on the web.

For information about city-level efforts to reduce prostitution within the county, please see Bay Shore, Bellport, Coram, Gordon Heights, Huntington, Huntington Station, Islandia, Mastic, North Amityville, North Bellport, Riverhead, Riverside, Shirley, Southampton, Brookhaven, West Babylon, and Wyandanch.

Key Sources

State New York
Type County
Population 1511732
Location
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