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West Allis is a city in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. It is a suburb of Milwaukee, and has a population of approximately 60,000. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in other 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 is sex trafficking. A wide range of additional crimes associated with the local sex trade have also been documented, including child sex trafficking and prostitution-related homicide and shootings of prostituted women, and pimps using trafficked children to rob sex buyers. In one trafficking case, a pimp was arrested for soliciting women to work in prostitution, coaching them on getting sex buyers drunk, avoiding police, and stealing customers’ credit cards. He then took them to clubs around the region to “practice.” One woman who had been trafficked was found to have several aliases, and had been arrested for prostitution in Illinois, Nevada, Washington D.C. and Hawaii. In another case, a man investigated for serial rape was arrested for soliciting a prostituted woman. In October, 2015, West Allis Police collaborated with numerous local and state law enforcement agencies , as well as the Milwaukee office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), on nationwide human trafficking operation conducted throughout the United States that recovered 149 underage trafficking victims and arrested 153 pimps/traffickers. The initiative, dubbed Operation Cross Country IX, is a national effort spearheaded by the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, along with state and local law enforcement partners across the country. In Wisconsin, FBI officials announced that in West Allis, three adult and two juvenile victims were recovered, and two traffickers arrested.
In April, 2019, a court decision about the validity of a search warrant contained a description of a West Allis case involving prostitution, non-consensual production of pornography, and illicit drug activities. In response to allegation, police conducted surveillance of a suspect’s property and observed a vehicle, registered to the suspect, parked outside of the property. Police also observed people exiting the residence and entering the vehicle. When police stopped the vehicle, the officers saw the suspect in the driver’s seat, and a woman and another male suspect identified as being involved in prostitution at the residence. One of the suspects posted pictures of the woman on a prostitution website while she was unconscious. West Allis police found multiple advertisements on the website associated with the phone number of a suspect provided, including advertisements with a picture of the woman lying in a bed in her underwear, and pictures of the suspects. The dates and the content of the advertisements corroborated the victim’s statements, and she further alleged that the men had provided her with heroin and cocaine. In January, 2020, local authorities closed a West Allis massage parlor for running a prostitution operation. Nearby business owners and residents had complained to police about the activity of the massage parlor. The business, located near 92nd Street and Greenfield Avenue, was shut down by the West Allis Police Department and West Allis City Attorney’s Office. An investigation began in August 2019 when West Allis detectives were informed that employees at the business were engaging in prostitution. After confirming that information, detectives executed a search warrant in October, 2019. Three women were arrested and criminally charged as a result of the investigation.
Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. Local arrests of sex buyers have resulted from investigating allegations of crimes against real victims, rather than the product of reverse stings using undercover police decoys. For example, in 2001, West Allis police responded to a report of a distressed woman creating a disturbance, and she told officers that she had been raped. An investigation determined that the event occurred in the context of a prostitution transaction, and that the sex buyer was a police officer with the West Allis Police Department. The man was eventually forced to resign from the West Allis Police Department, where he had worked since 1989, after the off-duty altercation with the prostituting woman. According to an incident report, West Allis officers were called for a report of a woman, wearing only a bikini, banging on a door, and were told that the woman was last seen walking east on W. National Ave. about 3:40 a.m. They found a woman was crying and said she had been raped, and later identified the offender as the police officer. They had gone to his residence and she heard a noise “like handcuffs” and when she questioned him, he became angry and assaulted her. With his resignation from the West Allis Police Department, the man was able to avoid both criminal charges and department discipline. After he left the department, the man obtained a state license to work as a security officer.
- West Allis Police Department
- West Allis City Attorney’s Office
Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure, Employment Loss:
Background on Local Prostitution, Related Violence, Drug Offenses, Non-Consensual Pornography:
- https://www.fbi.gov/fbi-announces-results-of-nationwide-human-trafficking-operation (2015)
- https://urbanmilwaukee.com/city-sues-to-shut-down-properties-linked-to-drugs-prostitution/ (2017)
- https://www.cbs58.com/news/3-employees-of-west-allis-massage-parlor-arrested-for-prostitution-related-offenses (2019)
- https://www.wisconsinappeals.net/alleged-omissions-from-search-warrant-application-didnt-invalidate-warrant/ (2019)
- https://www.fox6now.com/news/police-3-arrested-charged-in-west-allis-prostitution-bust-asian-massage-shut-down (2020)
- https://www.fox6now.com/2-of-3-sentenced-for-inappropriate-massages-at-west-allis-business (2020)
- https://www.tmj4.com/west-allis-utilizes-new-law-to-shut-down-massage-parlor (2020)
- https://www.jsonline.com/west-allis-massage-parlor-workers-sentenced-prostitution (2020)
- https://archive.jsonline.com/zelich-went-ballistic-when-questioned-about-handcuffs (2001)
Background on Sex Trafficking, Prostitution, and Related Violence in the Area:
- “Police Attack on Prostitution Must Hit Hard at Sleazy Solicitors”, Milwaukee Journal, August 17 1985.
- “2 Known Traps of Prostitution”, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 20 2009.
- “Prostitution Crackdown Targets Human Trafficking; 53 Suspected Prostitutes, 3 Pimps Rounded Up in Milwaukee County”, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 25 2012.
- “Milwaukee Crime Kingpin Michael Lock Loses Appeal in Prostitution Case”, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 8 2013.
- “Complaint Says Prostitutes Hid Missing Man’s Body, Used His Apartment”, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 1 2013.
- “Milwaukee Faith Project Offers Prostitutes Housing, Hope”, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 21 2014.
- “Women Find Support as They Work to Escape Lives of Prostitution”, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 1 2014.
- https://urbanmilwaukee.com/the-scourge-of-out-of-control-prostitution-drugs/ (2017)
- https://www.wisn.com/police-respond-to-social-media-post-of-girls-being-snatched-at-bayshore (2017)
- https://www.tmj4.com/glendale-police-say-no-reports-of-human-trafficking-at-bayshore-towne-center (2017)
- https://patch.com/wauwatosa/man-arrested-trafficking-15-year-old-girl-backpage-com-prostitution-scheme (2017)
- https://www.jsonline.com/sex-trafficking-milwaukee-may-raise-fines-soliciting-prostitutes/ (2019)