More than 1,300 sex buyers – a record – were arrested across 18 states in this summer’s National Johns Suppression Initiative aimed at reducing sex trafficking, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today.
The operation by a national coalition of law enforcement agencies recovered 32 underage girls lured into human trafficking and made 71 human trafficking arrests. The operation lasted approximately one month, from July 1 to August 7. **
This is the 12th operation for the nationwide initiative, which Sheriff Dart launched in 2011 to highlight the role of sex buyers – or ‘johns’ — as perpetrators in this violent and exploitive industry. The initiative has so far resulted in the arrest of more than 5,800 johns by more than 70 arresting agencies across 22 states.
This summer Sheriff Dart welcomed 10 new partners, including New York City and Philadelphia police departments. Initiative partners now cover the nation’s 10 largest cities.
This summer’s initiative also focused on ensuring that victims of sex trafficking were connected with appropriate social services. For departments without existing ties to service agencies, the initiative helped equip front-line officers with information to connect to the national human trafficking hotline to gain access to local services providers.
Cumulative numbers from the 12th National Johns Suppression Initiative campaign are as follows:
- 71 sex trafficking arrests
- 1,358 sex solicitation arrests (johns)
- More than $1 million in fines
- More than 1,300 charges (felony, misdemeanor and ordinance violations)
- 58 adult victims recovered/offered services
- 32 juvenile victims recovered
- 2,015 johns deterred (includes texts, calls and webpage re-directs to inform sex buyers of the harmful impact of the sex industry)
- 421 vehicles towed/impounded/seized
- 60 percent of arrests stemmed from online advertisements, of which 99 percent were on Backpage.com.
Noteworthy anecdotes from this sweep include:
- Cook County Sheriff’s Police Investigators arrested a 15-year-old attempting to buy sex
- The Las Vegas Metro Police Department recovered 22 girls who were identified as victims of sex trafficking.
- Oakland Police Department arrested a male buyer who left his 7-year-old daughter in the car. The child got out of the vehicle and wandered around the motel parking lot. She was rescued during the operation. He was charged with child endangerment in addition to solicitation.
- Seattle Police arrested two three-member bachelor parties.
- Tennessee Bureau of Investigations rescued a 12-year-old girl who had been abducted in Texas and trafficked to Tennessee for purposes of commercial sex.
Agencies with the most arrests:
- Cook County (Ill.) Sheriff’s Office: 230 [43 in partnership with suburban agencies Lansing Police Department, Matteson Police Department and Broadview Police Department]
- Seattle Police Department: 204
- Columbus (Ohio) Police Department: 167
- Harris County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office: 143
- Houston Police Department: 82
- Tennessee Bureau of Investigation: 74
- Portland (Ore.) Police Department: 63
- Boston Police Department: 57
- McLennan County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office: 55
- Oakland (Calif.) Police Department: 42
Other law enforcement partners combined for approximately 250 of arrests made: Glendale (Ariz.) Police Department; Phoenix Police Department; Mesa (Ariz.) Police Department; Tucson (Ariz.) Police Department; Little Rock (Ark.) Police Department; San Diego Police Department; Denver Police Department, DeKalb (Ga.) Police Department; Arlington Heights (Ill.) Police Department; Lake County, (Ill.) Sheriff’s Office; Lansing (Ill) Police Department; Matteson (Ill.) Police Department; Howard County (Md.) Police Department; Prince George (Md.) Police Department, Maple Grove (Minn.) Police Department; Lincoln (Neb.) Police Department; New York City Police Department; Las Vegas Police Department; Reno (Nev.) Police Department; Wood County (Ohio) Sheriff’s Office; Dauphin County (Penn.) Police Department; Pittsburgh Police Department; Philadelphia Police Department; Upper Merion Township (Penn.) Police Department.
Sheriff Dart reminds the public that the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty by the government in a court of law.
*Special thanks to Demand Abolition for their support of this national initiative.
**Some operations are executed outside the official time period due to the jurisdiction’s capacity
***All numbers are preliminary and subject to revision