Winston-Salem, NC

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Winston-Salem is a city located in North Carolina with a population of roughly 245,000. It is a city in, and the county seat of, Forsyth County, NC. Prostitution has been well-documented in the city for decades, generating complaints to police from residents and local businesses. Among the many crimes associated with commercial sex in the county have been sex trafficking, child sex trafficking, and targeted homicide against prostituted women.

In 2011, five people were indicted on charges they forced a Guatemalan woman to work as a prostitute to pay off a $3,000 immigration bond. The woman was forced to work in brothels in Sanford and Winston-Salem, according to court records.

In April 2014, police announced the arrest of 30 people in Winston-Salem on sex trafficking charges resulting from an investigation spanning more than four years. Police launched an investigation in August 2009 into allegations of organized prostitution. State and federal law enforcement also joined the investigation which ended in January 2014, and identified at least five foreign nationals, including one minor, as victims of sex trafficking and who were trafficked at locations in Winston-Salem.

In 2017, the group “No Child Trafficked” put an ad on as a test, in which the model in the ad was made to look like an underage girl. Over two weeks, there were 274 calls in response to the ad.

In an effort to combat the demand for prostitution, local police have conducted reverse stings. On certain occasions, some of the arrestees have been afforded the option of attending a ‘john school.’  In 2003, an identity disclosure effort began when TV 13 broadcast the names and pictures of men and women arrested for prostitution-related crimes. As described in a 2008 city government document, “City of Winston-Salem, North Carolina: Best Practices Report,” a “Comprehensive Plan to Address Prostitution” had evolved from the John School Initiative, which began in 2002, to a comprehensive plan to address street level prostitution in the city and as a result, the number of partners involved in the project expanded. In 2007, the list of partners involved in the initiative included the following agencies: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Forsyth County Health Department, Winston-Salem Police Department, Centerpoint, Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office, Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, and Center for Community Safety, WSTV-13 and other service providers within the community.

Key Partners

  • Winston-Salem Police Department
  • Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
  • Forsyth County Health Department
  • Winston-Salem Police Department, Centerpoint
  • Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office
  • Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office
  • Center for Community Safety

Key Sources

John School:

  • “Forsyth Has New Prostitution Deal, Class Could Mitigate Offense; Prostitutes Face Ban in ‘Hot’ Areas”, Winston-Salem Journal, September 5 2002.
  • “Survey: ‘John School’ Helpful, Most Graduates Say They Won’t Pick Up Prostitutes”, Winston-Salem Journal, October 5 2003.

Reverse Stings with Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State North Carolina
Type City
Population 245787
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