|IT Based Tactics||✓|
Vancouver is a city of nearly 200,000 residents, situated directly across the Columbia River from Portland, OR. It is the county seat and largest city of Clark County, Washington. It is a part of the Portland–Vancouver–Hillsboro Metropolitan Statistical Area which has a combined population area of approximately 2.5 million residents. Similar to Portland, the City of Vancouver has struggled with substantial problems related to prostitution and sex trafficking for decades. Reports have cited the city’s location along the Interstate-5 corridor as a “stop” on several sex trafficking and prostitution circuits. During the late 1980s into the early 1990s, a serial killer who targeted prostituted women is believed to have killed at least six women in and around Vancouver. An example of a more routine set of problems can be seen through the three-month investigation in 2015 within the city’s Maplewood neighborhood. An eight-unit apartment complex and adjoining home were identified as problematic by numerous complaints from area residents, and a police investigation revealed a constant stream of drug sales, gang activity and prostitution in that neighborhood. Police made 19 arrests on charges of drug trafficking, drug use, prostitution and larceny. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. In recent years, Vancouver has been named as the hometown and operating base of three separate domestic minor sex traffickers. For example, in 2022, a 34-year-old Vancouver, Washington man was found guilty by a federal jury of one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking; three counts of sex trafficking of a child; two counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion; and three counts of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in sexual activity. According to reports, the offender had been sex trafficking multiple female juveniles in and around the Portland-Vancouver–Hillsboro MSA by posting ads on websites known for prostitution and commercial sex.
To address these issues, the Vancouver Police Department has developed a strategy that targets underlying consumer-level demand. In November 2013, VPD detectives conducted a web-based reverse sting. Officers placed a decoy advertisement to the “Escorts” section of Backpage.com; undercover detectives then fielded calls from individuals who responded to the listing, and arranged to meet suspected sex buyers at a nearby hotel. Vancouver police detectives said an overwhelming number of people tried to meet with the undercover officer who was conducting a prostitution sting, and that at many points during the process, detectives were unable to keep pace with the volume of phone calls. The nine-hour sting operation led to the arrest of 15 male sex buyers ranging in age from 22 to 57 years old. Their names and ages were publicly disclosed and carried by some (but not all) local news outlets. Each of the men was charged with “attempting to patronizing a prostitute” and transported to the Clark County Jail, where they were cited and released.
In 2018, the VPD and the Clark County Sheriff’s Office participated in a web-based, prostitution and sex trafficking investigation in the greater Portland area. The multi-agency investigation, led by the Oregon State Police, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, and the Portland Police Bureau, consisted of conducting missions focused on reducing the demand for commercial sex at four different hotels in the greater Portland metro area. Participating agencies posted decoy ads on websites known for commercial sex and sex trafficking and communicated with potential sex buyers, arranging a time and location to meet. As a result of the investigation, a total of thirty-six people across the Portland metro region were arrested and charged with crimes related to prostitution. In Vancouver, VPD officers cited four men — aged 18, 22, 42, and 54 — for patronizing a prostitute. One of the men was also arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine.
In addition to reverse sting operations, sex buyers and sex traffickers have also been apprehended through alternative investigations or as a result of residential reports to local law enforcement. For example, in 2021, a 32-year-old man was arrested for allegedly soliciting two teenage girls, one of whom was a minor, for sex in the parking lot of Vancouver Mall. According to the affidavit, the pair of friends were sitting in the younger girls car when the offender reportedly entered the car without permission. He pulled out a stack of cash with his signature on it and asked the teenage girls to go back to a hotel room to engage in commercial sex with him. When the teenagers declined, he became upset and left. As he was leaving, the offender caressed the 18-year-old’s cheek. The investigation was initiated after the teenage girls reported the incident to police. Video surveillance from the mall captured the offender entering the victim’s car. Police found the suspected sex buyer at a local Days Inn and arrested him for suspicion of commercial sex abuse of a minor, fourth-degree assault, second-degree vehicle prowling, and patronizing a prostitute. According to police, both victims positively identified the offender in a line up as the man who solicited them for sex. In December 2021, he was found guilty by a Clark County Superior Court jury for charges of commercial sex abuse of a minor, a felony, and fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation, a gross misdemeanor. In 2022, the offender was sentenced to 34 months in prison for the felony in addition to being sentenced for 364 days for the gross misdemeanor charge, with that time suspended for two years. He was also required to register as a sex offender. The offender’s identity was included in reports by local media outlets.
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- Operation Cross Country V (2010)
- “5 Men Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, Albany Tribune, November 23 2013.
- “Fifteen Suspected ‘Johns’ Arrested in Sting Operation”, Vancouver Columbian, November 23 2013.
- “Prostitution Sting Nabs 15 in Vancouver”, CBS/KOIN-TV 6, November 23 2013.
- “Vancouver Police Arrest ‘Overwhelming Number of People’ in Online Prostitution Sting”, Portland Oregonian, November 23 2013.
- “Vancouver Prostitution Sting Overwhelmed by Demand”, ABC/KOMO-TV 4, November 23 2013.
- “Washington Prostitution Sting Overwhelmed by Demand”, Salem Statesman Journal, November 23 2013.
- Operation Cross Country VIII (2014)
- Operation Cross Country IX (2015)
- https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/operation-cross-country (2015)
- Operation Cross Country X (2016)
- https://patch.com/oregon/hillsboro/37-people-caught-multi-agency-sex-trafficking-sting (2018)
Sex Buyer Arrests, Cameras, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.fbi.gov/john-who-purchased-14-year-old-for-commercial-sex-sentenced-to-two-years-in-federal-prison (2014)
- https://www.columbian.com/man-32-accused-of-approaching-teens-at-vancouver-mall-offering-cash-for-sex/ (2021)
- https://www.columbian.com/man-sentenced-to-more-than-two-years-in-prison-for-soliciting-teens-at-vancouver-mall/ (2022)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Grand Jury Probe Cites Four Men”, Eugene Register-Guard, February 5 1959.
- “Men Accused in Teen Porn Case”, Vancouver Columbian, March 15 1998.
- “Suspects in Alleged Porno Scheme Face More Charges”, Vancouver Columbian, March 23 1998.
- “Two Men Plead Not Guilty to Sex Crimes”, Vancouver Columbian, April 12 1998.
- “Man Pleads Guilty to Promoting Prostitution of Child”, Vancouver Columbian, March 19 2010.
- “Man Receives 10 Years in Child Prostitution Case”, Vancouver Columbian, April 23 2010.
- “Prostitution Sting Yields 14 Arrests, Two Rescues”, Vancouver Columbian, November 8 2010.
- “Child Sex Trafficking on Rise in Clark County”, Vancouver Columbian, November 15 2011.
- “Website Accused of Allowing Pimps to Sell Kids into Prostitution”, ABC/KATU-TV 2, February 24 2012.
- “Two Arrested in Teen Sex-Trafficking Case”, Vancouver Columbian, March 21 2012.
- “Two Plead Not Guilty in Teen Sex-Trafficking Case”, Vancouver Columbian, April 4 2012.
- “FBI: Sting Rescues 3 Local Children from Sex-Trafficking Ring”, Vancouver Columbian, June 26 2012.
- “Photo Gallery: Trafficked”, Vancouver Columbian, July 23 2012.
- “Vancouver Man Gets Jailtime in Imprisonment of Girl”, Vancouver Columbian, January 14 2013.
- “Vancouver Police Arrest Alleged Customer of Child Prostitute”, Vancouver Columbian, July 11 2013.
- “3 Kids Aided Locally in Child Prostitution Raids”, Vancouver Columbian, July 29 2013.
- “Vancouver Man Accused of Trafficking, Prostituting Teenage Girl”, Vancouver Columbian, September 4 2013.
- “Woman Gets 2 Years for Being Accomplice to Prostitution of Teens”, Vancouver Columbian, September 25 2013.
- “Teen Sentenced to 6-Plus Years for Pimping Two Girls”, Vancouver Columbian, September 26 2013.
- https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/portland/news/press-releases/vancouver-woman-sentenced-to-four-years-in-federal-prison-for-transporting-minor-for-sex (2014)
- “ATF Statement: Prostitution Sting Relied on Other Agencies”, Portland Oregonian, February 4 2014.
- “Vancouver Woman Gets 4 Years for Prostituting Girl”, Vancouver Columbian, September 15 2014.
- “Man Gets 185 Days in Prostitution Case”, Vancouver Columbian, October 2 2014.
- “Ex-Lake Oswego Cheerleader Admits Transporting Teen Schoolmate for Prostitution,” Portland Oregonian, June 16 2015.
- https://www.columbian.com/child-sex-abuse-imagery-crimes-on-the-rise-in-clark-county/ (2020)
- https://www.bigrapidsnews.com/SW-Washington-man-convicted-of-sex-trafficking (2022)
- https://www.justice.gov/federal-jury-convicts-vancouver-man-sex-trafficking-minors (2022)
- https://www.justice.gov/washington-state-man-indicted-sex-trafficking-child-pornography (2022)
- https://www.chronline.com/man-accused-in-sex-trafficking-child-porn-firearms-case (2022)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Pastor Charges Vice Flourishes”, Spokane Spokesman-Review, October 13 1951.
- “Taking It Off OK”, Spokane Spokesman-Review, July 19 1978.
- Many street prostitutes young men (1979)
- “Payment for ‘Escort Services’ in Dispute”, Vancouver Columbian, June 30 1995.
- “Vancouver Police Arrest Alleged Prostitute”, Vancouver Columbian, October 22 1999.
- “Woman Alleged to Be Prostitution Madam”, Eugene Register-Guard, March 17 2000.
- “Alleged Prostitution Rings Shut Down”, Eugene Register-Guard, April 8 2000.
- “Street Sex Part 1: How ‘the Life’ Affects Neighborhood Livability”, East PDX News, October 2007.
- “Prostitution Sting Prompts Review”, Vancouver Columbian, February 12 2011.
- https://www.columbian.com/prostitution-sting-prompts-review/ (2012)
- “Ex-Prosecutor Accused of Soliciting Prostitutes”, Vancouver Columbian, July 24 2012.
- Ex-County Prosecutor Resolves Charge (2012)
- Deputy prosecutor charged with seeking prostitutes (2012)
- “Update: Ex-Prosecutor Resolves Prostitution-Related Case; Diversion Agreement Includes Counseling, Community Service”, Vancouver Columbian, August 2 2012.
- “Vancouver Officer Arrested After Traffic Stop, Standoff”, ABC/KATU-TV 2, November 30 2012.
- http://komonews.com/news/local/drug-prostitution-investigation-leads-to-arrest-of-19-in-vancouver (2015)
- “Portland Man Sentenced to 8 Months in Prostitution Case,” Vancouver Columbian, February 26 2016.
- http://uchicagogate.com/on-the-track-sexual-exploitation-along-the-i-5-corridor/ (2017)