Washington County, OR
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Washington County is a county in Northwestern Oregon, of approximately 601,000 residents, located directly west of Portland, OR, and abuts Multnomah County, OR. The county seat and largest city is Hillsboro, and its other larger cities include Beaverton, Lake Oswego, and Tigard. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been known to occur in the area for decades, and businesses frequently complain to police about the detrimental effects sexual exploitation has on their businesses. For example, as sex trafficking has become a growing concern in the greater Portland area, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and several city agencies within the county have participated with regional and national agencies in a series of “Operation Cross Country” law enforcement actions since 2009. These nationwide operations focus on apprehending individuals seeking to sexually exploit minors in exchange for money and identifying victims of child sex trafficking across the United States. Operations consist of both street-level and web-based reverse stings, conducted by the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force and other locally participating agencies. In a 2012 operation, police identified three child sex trafficking victims from the greater Portland area. In 2015, a woman was found guilty of sex trafficking a minor and was sentenced to four years in federal prison for violating the federal Mann Act, which makes it a crime to transport someone between states for purposes of commercial sex. She had sex trafficked the teenage girl in Portland and Eugene, as well as Vancouver WA. Her and a co-defendant were also found to be in the process of luring an additional minor into their sex trafficking operation at the time of their arrests in April 2014. The co-defendant pleaded guilty in April to transporting a minor for prostitution, and was given a 10-year prison sentence.
In January 2018, four men were arrested in Beaverton during a web-based reverse sting operation conducted by Beaverton detectives and the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force, and were charged with online sexual corruption and luring a minor. Beaverton police detectives and FBI agents communicated with the men online and arranging to meet under the pretense that the suspects would be sexually exploiting minors in exchange for money. Their names and identities were released by local media outlets. four men were arrested in Beaverton during a child predator sting, and four men were charged with online sexual corruption and luring a minor. In February 2018, a man was indicted in Washington County Circuit Court for sex trafficking of a 17 year old victim.
Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and municipal police departments within the county (sometimes in collaboration with state and federal law enforcement) have employed tactics that attempt to undermine demand. For example, in June 2018 the Washington County Sheriff’s Office led a team with six other collaborating agencies in a reverse sting operation that resulted in the arrest or citation of 37 people during an anti-human trafficking effort that occurred at multiple area hotels. During the operation, investigators communicated online with people seeking to pay for sex acts. Everyone arrested or cited faced charges of prostitution-related crimes, including commercial sexual solicitation. Other agencies involved in the operation included the Portland Police Bureau, Hillsboro Police Department, Vancouver (WA) Police Department, Lake Oswego Police Department, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, and Oregon State Police.
In March, 2018 investigators arrested 18 men during a reverse sting aimed at reducing the demand for commercial sex across Washington County. The operation was conducted by a collaboration of Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Hillsboro Police Department, Lake Oswego Police Department, the Portland Police Bureau’s sex trafficking team, and the Washington County District Attorney’s Office. The men were charged with soliciting prostitution, and their identities were included in news releases. The arrested men were from a pool of over 70 contacts received by investigators who used posted decoy ads on websites known for prostitution and sex trafficking to communicate with potential sex buyers and meet at an unidentified Tigard hotel. Commercial sexual solicitation in Oregon is a misdemeanor, carrying fines up to $6,250 and up to one year in jail. A similar operation had been conducted in late 2017, and resulted in 40 contacts; detectives could have attempted to meet and arrest each of those individuals, but they instead chose to give the prospective sex buyers a verbal warning, along with a promise they would be arrested if ever found to be involved in another prostitution situation.
In May 2013, Tigard police posted two online listings advertising commercial sex, and within 24 hours more than 75 calls were made from interested men, five of which were arrested when they arrived at a Tigard hotel to buy sex. In August 2013, officers conducted a similar web-based operation resulting in the arrest of nine male sex buyers, whose names and ages were provided to news outlets. In September 2014, Tigard officers conducted an additional web-based reversal resulting in the arrest of eight male sex buyers.
Sex buyers and sex traffickers have also been apprehended through alternative investigations and residential reports to local law enforcement. For example, in September 2014, officers with the Tigard Police Department conducted a web-based reversal resulting in the arrest of eight male sex buyers. In this instance, however, police were compelled to conduct the sting after management at a local hotel contacted the department to complain about suspected prostitution occurring on the property. TPD officers then worked with the business to stage a sting on the premises. Police placed a decoy listing suggesting prostitution to a website known for commercial sex, and arranged to meet the men who responded and made an offer of money for sex. Following the investigation, all of the arrestees’ names were released to the public. When asked about the operation, a TPD representative stated:
“The Tigard Police Department believes maintaining a zero tolerance policy regarding prostitution is a way to help draw attention and address this criminal venture while possibly preventing the vulnerable from entering into this enterprise.”
In 2019, the FBI and the Beaverton Police Department were alerted about an ad on social media regarding two underage girls soliciting sex. Police interviewed the girls who were 15 and 13 who reportedly had solicited the 13-year-old girl for sex acts in exchange for $230 online. Undercover detectives communicated with the man online, pretending to be the 15-year-old girl and arranged a time and place to meet. Upon arriving at the predetermined location, the man was arrested. In June 2019, the offender was found guilty of two counts of second-degree rape, two counts of first-degree sexual abuse, two counts of online sexual corruption of a child, and three counts of luring a minor. In addition to being found guilty, the offender was fired from his job at the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation.
- Washington County Sheriff’s Office
- Beaverton Police Department
- Hillsboro Police Department
- Lake Oswego Police Department
- Tigard Police Department
- Portland Police Bureau
- Washington County District Attorney’s Office
- Vancouver (WA) Police Department
- Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office
- Oregon State Police
Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “Three arrested in prostitution sting.” 22 Jun 2007. The Hillsboro Argus.
- “Tigard Police Cracking Down on Prostitution and Johns”, Albany Tribune, May 21 2013.
- “Tigard Police Sting Operation Targets Johns, Prostitution”, FOX/KPTV-TV 12, May 21 2013.
- “Prostitution Sting Nabs Nine”, Portland Tribune, August 30 2013.
- “Tigard Police Arrest Nine in Prostitution Sting”, Oregonian, August 30 2013.
- “Fund Manager Who Donated to Anti-Gay Marriage Initiative Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, Business Insider, September 4 2013.
- “Eight Arrested in Tigard Prostitution Sting”, Portland Tribune, September 5 2014.
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/news/pressrel/press-releases/forty-eight-children-recovered-in-operation-cross-country-iii (2009)
- https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/portland/press-releases (2009)
- https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/portland/press-releases/ (2010)
- https://crosscut.com/seattle-portland-tackle-sex-trafficking-juveniles (2011)
- https://archives.fbi.gov/oregon-and-southwest-washington-law-enforcement-partners-rescue-three-young-victims-of-commercial-sexual-exploitation (2012)
- https://pamplinmedia.com/prostitution-sting-nets-suspects (2013)
- https://archives.fbi.gov/law-enforcement-partners-recover-two-young-victims-of-commercial-sexual-exploitation (2013)
- https://www.fbi.gov/portland/news/press-releases/fbi-child-exploitation-task-force-and-local-partners-recover-minor-victim-in-sex-trafficking-sting (2014)
- https://www.fbi.gov/portland/news/press-releases/fbi-announces-results-of-national-child-sex-trafficking-operation (2015)
- https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/portland/news/press-releases/fbi-announces-results-of-national-child-sex-trafficking-operation-1 (2016)
- https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/portland/news/press-releases/fbi-announces-results-of-national-child-sex-trafficking-operation-in-oregon (2017)
- https://patch.com/oregon/beaverton/child-prostitution-sting-nabs-4-beaverton-men (2018)
- https://patch.com/oregon/hillsboro/18-men-arrested-sex-trafficking-sting-sheriff (2018)
- https://patch.com/oregon/lakeoswego/prostitution-sting-nabs-4-men-tigard-police-say (2018)
- http://www.kptv.com/story/37-people-arrested-cited-during-undercover-prostitution-sting-in-metro-area (2018)
- https://www.kptv.com/news/undercover-human-trafficking-sting-in-portland-hillsboro-leads-to-23-people-charged (2018)
- Male Arrested For Compelling Prostitution Of A Minor (2019)
- https://www.justice.gov/usao-or/pr/toronto-man-extradited-leadership-role-racketeering-conspiracy-operating-dozens-illegal (2019)
- https://www.justice.gov/usao-or/pr/nationwide-sting-operation-targets-illegal-asian-brothels-six-indicted-racketeering (2019)
- https://www.courthousenews.com/sex-workers-in-oregon-call-for-an-end-to-police-stings-officials-signal-support/ (2021)
Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:
- “Eight Arrested in Tigard Prostitution Sting”, Portland Tribune, September 5 2014.
- Tigard police set up prostitution sting, arrest 8 at area hotel (2014)
- Former daycare worker convicted of sex abuse (2019)
- Wanted Man Crashes Into Parked Vehicle While Running From Deputies (2022)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2012/06/fbi_sting_identifies_79_child.html (2012)
- “Teen Was Victim of Sex Trafficking along West Coast before Beaverton Police Intervened, Documents Say”, Oregonian, August 12 2014.
- http://www.oregonlive.com/former_lake_oswego_cheerleader.html (2015)
- https://www.kgw.com/portland-man-arrested-in-sex-trafficking-case (2018)
- http://www.kptv.com/beaverton-police-man-arrested-for-promoting-prostitution (2018)
Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Oregon Bones May Be Tied to Green River Killings”, Spokane Spokesman-Review, June 15 1985.
- “Green River Force Looking for Link with Oregon Killings”, Spokane Chronicle, June 19 1985.
- “More Bones Uncovered in Tigard”, Bend Bulletin, June 21 1985.
- “Victim’s Bones, Found in 2 States, Baffle Police”, Spartanburg Herald-Journal, February 16 1990.
- “Police Net Catches the Wrong Man”, Seattle Times, November 6 2003.
- “Police Search for More Victims of Alleged Craigslist Attacker”, ABC/KATU-TV 2, November 19 2007.
- “Tigard Police Crack Down on Online Prostitution”, Oregonian, August 7 2008.
- “Tigard Police Sweep Craigslist Prostitution”, Portland Tribune, August 13 2008.
- “High Court Erases the Convictions of Craigslist Rapist”, Tigard Times, July 26 2012.
- “Oregon Supreme Court Says Convictions, Except Rape, Still Stand in Tigard Craigslist Case”, Oregonian, November 13 2012.
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