Wilmington, NC

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Wilmington is a city of approximately 107,000 residents, located on the southeastern coast of North Carolina. As one of the state’s largest commercial and population centers, the city has dealt with significant problems related to prostitution for decades and more recently, sex trafficking, including commercial sexual exploitation of children. Women involved in selling sex have also been murdered in the city.

In response, the Wilmington Police Department adopted the use of street-level reverse stings in 1981. The operations, which typically use one or more undercover female officers as decoys, are now conducted on a routine basis to identify and apprehend sex buyers. In their efforts, Wilmington police frequently collaborate with officers from the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, particularly on investigations into suspected sex trafficking. Additionally, the city and county have offered a diversion program (or “john school”) to select arrestees since 2004.

Key Sources

State North Carolina
Type City
Population 99623
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