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Wenatchee is a city in Central Washington and has a population of roughly 35,000. It is the largest city and county seat of Chelan County, WA. Prostitution is documented to have occurred in the city in the 1800s, and efforts to combat prostitution in the city date back to the 1930s. More recently, there have been cases of sex trafficking, including the sexual exploitation of children. For example, in 2018, man who allegedly held two prostituted women against their will at a local hotel in Wenatchee was arrested. Wenatchee police said that a woman came into the police department and told officers that she and her cousin had been assaulted, robbed, and were imprisoned overnight in the hotel room. The two cousins had managed to escape and told police that they were working as prostituted people in the hotel room when the suspect came into the room and attacked both of them. The suspect then allegedly took one of the women’s wallet and money, refused to allow them to leave the room, and threatened to kill them if they tried to escape or contact police. The suspect told the women that they now “work for him.” Officers sent to locate the suspect spotted him in his car as he was entering the hotel parking lot and arrested him without incident. He was charged with robbery in the first degree, two counts of unlawful imprisonment, two counts of threats to kill, assault in the fourth degree, violation of a domestic violence no contact order, assault in the second degree and driving while his license was suspended in the third degree.
In 2010, the Wenatchee Police Department arrested five men in a prostitution sting after placing an ad on a website known commercial sex sales. Law enforcement used a confidential informant to answer a prepaid phone, and set up meetings at a local motel with those who responded to the listing. Over the course of the investigation, five men ages 25 to 46 appeared and offered to pay for sex, and were apprehended by police. The sting involved five police officers, including one captain, three of whom waited in a rented room at a local motel. As noted, they also enlisted the help of a confidential informant who posed as a prostituted woman and provided her a prepaid cell phone to answer calls from prospective customers. All of the offenders were booked into the Chelan County Regional Justice Center on suspicion of patronizing a prostitute, a misdemeanor.
In 2017, twenty men responded to ads or social media invitations to have sex with a prostituted person, and were arrested by the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office deputies during a sting operation. Three of the men arrived to the predetermined location to knowingly sexually exploit a minor in exchange for money. They were arrested and booked into the Chelan County Regional Justice Center for communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. The other 17 male sex buyers were cited for soliciting prostitution and were released. The names and ages of the three men charged with felony “communicating with a minor for immoral purposes” were reported in news report.
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.wenatcheeworld.com/20-men-arrested-in-prostitute-sting/ (2017)
- https://www.heraldnet.com/police-make-20-sex-offense-arrests-in-wenatchee/ (2017)
- https://www.wenatcheeworld.com/three-charged-with-felonies-after-wenatchee-prostitution-sting/ (2017)
- https://www.kpq.com/20-arrests-human-trafficking-investigation/ (2017)
- https://www.ifiberone.com/defendant-in-federal-sex-sting-pleads-to-non-sex-charge (2018)
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- “Time Was: In 1907, Wenatchee Feared Prostitutes Would Taint Genes,” Wenatchee World, May 23 1993.
- “Woman Arrested in Craigslist Prostitution Sting,” Wenatchee World, June 11 2009.
- https://www.justice.gov/wenatchee-man-sentenced-ten-years-federal-prison-possession-child-pornography (2014)
- http://www.kptv.com/you-work-for-me-now-prostitutes-say-man-threatened-to-kill-them-at-wenatchee-hotel (2018)
- http://www.ifiberone.com/frantic-prostitute-alerts-wenatchee-police-about-her-attacker-two-arrested (2018)
- https://www.wenatcheeworld.com/pimp-arrested-after-hotel-room-attack-robbery/ (2018)
- https://www.heraldnet.com/tv-series-to-explore-discredited-wenatchee-child-sex-scandal/ (2021)
- https://kpq.com/two-wenatchee-locations-part-of-human-trafficking-investigation/ (2023)
- https://www.wenatcheeworld.com/pair-accused-of-using-wenatchee-massage-parlors-for-prostitution (2023)
- https://www.kxly.com/news/chelan-county-sheriffs-office-searching-for-human-trafficking-suspects/ (2023)
- https://www.fox41yakima.com/columbia-river-drug-task-force-contact-human-trafficking-victims/ (2023)