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.
- Street-Level Reverse Stings:
- “‘John’ Sting Results in 46 Arrests”, Press Release, Suffolk County Police Department, June 4 2007.
- “Six Men Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, Newsday, January 9 2008.
- “Six Arrested in Huntington Station ‘John’ Sting”, Long Island Press, September 25 2009.
- “Six People Arrested During Prostitution Sting”, Suffolk Police Blog, November 22 2011.
- Web-Based Reverse Stings:
- “21 Arrests in Long Island Online Prostitution Sting”, Newsday, January 23 2006.
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Undercover Investigation into Prostitution Leads to Four Arrests”, Suffolk Police Blog, November 3 2011.
- “8 Arrested in Suspected Drug, Prostitution Ring”, ABC/WABC-TV 7, August 13 2012.
- https://pix11.com/five-alleged-gang-members-accused-of-running-prostitution-ring-on-long-island/ (2018)
- http://longisland.news12.com/3-women-arrested-on-prostitution-charges-at-suffolk-massage-parlor (2019)
- http://www.townofislip-ny.gov/islip-town-acts-quickly-to-shut-down-drug-prostitution-den (2019)
- Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- “Sex Trafficking and Forced Prostitution in Long Island”, Examiner, August 10 2009.
- https://www.newsday.com/long-island/suffolk/human-trafficking-investigation-suffolk (2018)
- http://longisland.news12.com/police-2-men-charged-in-suffolk-sex-trafficking-case-involving-a-child (2018)
- https://abc7ny.com/2-charged-in-li-sex-trafficking-involving-12-year-old-girl (2018)
- Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- Long Island Serial Killer, Wikipedia.
- “Local Prostitute Identified by Police as Murder Victim”, New York Times, October 23 1969.
- “FBI Examines Man’s Computer for Clues in New York Serial Killer Investigation”, FOX News, April 15 2011.
- “Long Island Serial Killer Hunt: Police Release Sketches of Victims”, ABC News, September 20 2011.
- “Police Locate 2 More Bodies Buried on L.I.”, New York Times, June 30 1993.
- “Police: Prostitutes Had Ads on Craigslist”, Schenectady Daily Gazette, June 10 2006.
- “Other Cities Taking Aim at Highrise Prostitution Dens”, Toronto Star, November 11 2006.
- “Without a Serial Killer, Dead Prostitutes Just Don’t Matter”, Long Island Press, January 27 2011.
- Kolker, R. (2013). Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery. New York: Harper Collins.
- “Victims’ Families Never Gave Up Hope”, Newsday, July 22 2014.
- “Wood Chips Bolster Case against Long Island Man Accused in 20-Year-Old Murders”, New York Daily News, July 31 2014.
- “Arrest of Convicted Pimp Renews Attention to Unsolved Murder of Scarborough Woman,” Portland Press Herald, November 4 2015.