Union is a city of approximately 8,000 residents, located in Union County, South Carolina. 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 are sex trafficking, child endangerment, and violence committed against people involved in these transactions.
Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies in their strategy for prevention and response. For example, in March 2017, Union County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Task Force conducted web-based reverse sting and arrested four men. Deputies said the task force used an internet based service where prospective clients contacted who they thought was a prostitute but was actually an undercover deputy. Deputies said the men used the website to set up sexual encounters for money, only to arrive and find deputies in waiting.
In March 2018, eight people were arrested over the space of six hours during an anti-prostitution sting conducted in Union County by the Tri-County Drug Task Force. The operation involved undercover officers posing as prostitutes or persons wanting to hire prostitutes and being contacted by or making contact with men wanting the services of prostitutes or women offering to engage in prostitution. In most cases, the transaction was to involve cash in amounts ranging from $40 to $1,000, but in one case a suspect offered to trade drugs for sex. A total of five men were arrested for trying to buy sex from a female undercover officer. The identities of them men were publicly released, and three had vehicles towed and impounded.
In July, 2019, two men were arrested and charged in connection with allegedly seeking to purchase an act of prostitution via social media. The incident report stated that a responding officer was contacted by a concerned citizen in reference to a post about sexual proposition she had received on a social media site. The men were arrested in Union, and were charged by the Union County Sheriff’s Office with Purchasing Prostitution 1st Offense. The identities of them men were publicly released.
- Union County Sheriff’s Office
- Tri-County Drug Task Force
Reverse sting, shaming, auto seizure:
- https://www.uniondailytimes.com/news/15280/8-arrested-in-prostitution-sting (2018)
- https://www.uniondailytimes.com/news/21719/drugs-violence-and-prostitution (2019)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- https://patch.com/new-jersey/scotchplains/man-pleads-guilty-to-driving-women-from-nj-to-pa-to-scotchplains (2014)
- https://www.uniondailytimes.com/news/14200/two-arrested-for-prostitution (2017)
- https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article191225814.html (2017)
- https://patch.com/new-jersey/clark/union-county-man-charged-sex-trafficking (2018)
- https://www.tapinto.net/towns/westfield/articles/5-arrested-in-connection-with-prostitution-at-uni (2018)