A national coalition of law enforcement agencies conducted a summer sting operation that led to 1032 arrests – 961 would-be sex buyers (or “johns”) and 71 pimps or traffickers – Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today.
This initiative ran for approximately three months from June 1 – Aug. 30 and brought together 39 law enforcement agencies throughout 18 states in a widespread crackdown on the demand for purchased sex.
The operation also targeted pimps and traffickers who have forced victims into lives of prostitution. 71 men were taken into custody on charges of pimping, trafficking or promoting prostitution.
Sheriff Dart conceived these sweeps in 2011 to highlight the role of sex solicitors as perpetrators to this violent and exploitative industry. Since then, the Cook County Sheriff-led national coalition has grown rapidly, with this sting emerging as the largest and most successful operation yet. The campaign has highlighted the online evolution of the sex trade – 41 percent of the johns and trafficker arrests stemmed from online ads for prostitution. 98 percent of that online activity occurred on Backpage.com
The results of the latest National Johns Suppression Initiative reflect growing momentum for this national movement. Across ten operations over a four-year stretch, the collaborative effort has led to the arrests of more than 4,000 total johns and traffickers.
“This broad national movement should send a strong message to prospective johns that sex trafficking simply is not a victimless crime,” said Sheriff Dart. “These women and girls have been brutalized and exploited – and the most effective way to deter these heinous crimes is to target the demand.”
Cumulative numbers from the “National Johns Suppression Initiative” campaign are as follows:
- 71 sex trafficking/pimping arrests
- 961 sex solicitation arrests (johns)
- $189,170 in minimum fines
- 308 victims recovered
- 258 adults
- 50 juveniles
Noteworthy anecdotes from the sweep include:
- The Cook County Sheriff’s Office arrested 150 johns, while Houston PD arrested 143 and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office arrested 107.
- Las Vegas PD arrested 26 pimps and traffickers, while Houston PD arrested 15 and Minneapolis PD arrested 10.
- The Cook County Sheriff’s Office arrested a john who had his 2-year-old daughter in the car as he attempted to solicit sex. He was charged with child endangerment, and the child was placed with a family member through Illinois’ child welfare agency.
- Upon investigating a domestic assault, St. Paul PD found that the victim had been trafficked, and her trafficker was keeping her 3-year-old son at home in order to force her to return and keep her from going to the police. Officers brought the trafficker into custody and have since recovered several additional victims who have been trafficked by him.
- Houston PD arrested a woman for trafficking her juvenile goddaughter on the street.
- Seattle PD encountered a john who attempted to run officers over in his vehicle upon arrest. He has since been changed with Communicating with a Minor for Immoral Purposes, Eluding, and two counts of Reckless Endangerment.
- Dayton PD recovered a 15-year-old runaway who was being prostituted via Backpage.com.
- Boston PD recovered a mentally disabled victim who had been tortured and beaten by her trafficker, who has since been charged.
Agencies who participated in this sting include:
- Phoenix PD (37 johns)
- Tempe PD (5 johns)
- Mesa PD (8 johns)
- Glendale PD (7 johns)
- Scottsdale PD (2 johns)
- Little Rock PD (20 johns)
- Hayward PD (11 johns, 1 trafficker)
- Denver PD (59 johns)
- Arlington Heights PD (11 johns)
- Aurora PD (5 johns)
- Cook County Sheriff’s Office (150 johns, 1 trafficker)
- Matteson PD (7 johns in a joint sting with Cook County Sheriff’s Office)
- Lake County Sheriff’s Office (14 johns)
- Lake County Sheriff’s Office (4 johns, 2 traffickers)
- South Bend PD (1 john)
- Boston PD (8 johns, 3 traffickers)
- Duluth PD (3 johns)
- Minneapolis PD (10 traffickers)
- St. Paul PD & Bloomington PD (15 johns, 1 trafficker)
- Lincoln PD (16 johns)
- Las Vegas PD (34 johns, 26 traffickers)
- Reno PD (8 johns, 2 traffickers)
- Cincinnati PD (17 johns, 3 traffickers)
- Dayton PD, Englewood PD, Huber Heights PD, Miamisburg PD, Riverside PD (39 johns, 6 traffickers)
- Wood County Sheriff’s Office (5 johns)
- Oklahoma City PD (5 johns)
- Portland PD (36 johns)
- Pittsburgh PD (61 johns)
- Greenville County Sheriff’s Office (40 johns)
- Harris County Sheriff’s Office (107 johns)
- Houston PD (144 johns, 15 traffickers)
- Texas Department of Public Safety (12 johns)
- Newport News PD (11 johns)
- Seattle PD (66 johns, 1 trafficker)
*Special thanks to Demand Abolition for their support of this national initiative
**Numbers are preliminary and may be subject to change