National Sex Buyer Sting Nets More Than 500 Arrests

Jul 31, 2019Press Release, Uncategorized

From California to New York to Alabama, more than two dozen police agencies partnered in a five-week, anti-trafficking operation that led to the arrest of more than 500 sex buyers, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today.

The 18th National Johns Suppression Initiative (NJSI), conducted by 26 law enforcement agencies across 11 states, included street-level reverse stings and online stings with police posting decoy ads on multiple trafficking-related websites. Agencies in six cities also deployed decoy internet ads linked to artificial intelligence (AI) bots that interacted with thousands of johns.

Aimed at deterring johns and disrupting online sex trafficking, NJSI ran from June 23 through July 28. At least 503* sex buyers were arrested, including eight charged with soliciting a minor, and an additional 18 individuals face charges related to trafficking. Thirty-four individuals, including three minors, were recovered and offered services. More than half of the arrests were related to internet ads. Cook County agencies arrested 45 sex buyers.

The AI bot, created by, interacts with johns seeking sex and eventually sends a deterrence message warning of the legal and social ramifications of buying sex. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office and five other agencies utilized the bot, engaging a combined total of 3,079 potential sex buyers. Sheriff’s Police continue to monitor websites containing sex solicitation ads and buyers are on notice that any of those ads could lead buyers to arrest.

Sheriff Dart started NJSI in 2011 to draw national attention to the role sex buyers play in fueling sex trafficking. Since then, the Cook County Sheriff’s Police and more than 140 participating agencies have arrested more than 9,500 johns.

Agencies that participated in the 18th NJSI* include:

Alabama – 40 total arrests

  • West Alabama Human Trafficking Taskforce – 39 johns arrested, 1 individual arrested for indecent solicitation of a minor.

Arizona – 33 total arrests

  • Mesa Police Department, Tempe Police Department, Arizona Attorney General – 24 johns arrested.
  • Phoenix Police Department – 6 johns arrested, 3 pimp/sex trafficker arrests.

• California – 45 total arrests

  • Alameda County Sheriff’s Office – 10 johns arrested.
  • Hayward Police Department, Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Transit Crime Unit, Alameda County SAFE (Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement) Task Force – 13 johns arrests, 1 pimp/sex trafficker arrest.
  • Oakland Police Department – 20 johns arrested, 1 pimp/sex trafficker arrest.
  • The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office provided support to the above listed agencies.

• Colorado – 7 total arrests

  • Colorado Springs Police Department – 7 johns arrested, 427 bot contacts.

• Illinois – 54 total arrests

  • Cook County Sheriff’s Office – 45 johns arrested, 1,119 bot contacts
    • Arrests included joint operations with the Broadview Police Department (1 john arrested), Lansing Police Department (7 johns arrested), Matteson Police Department (4 johns arrested) and Orland Hills Police Department (4 johns arrested).
  • Lake County Sheriff’s Office – 9 johns arrested.

• Maryland – 6 total arrests

  • Howard County Police Department – 3 johns arrested, 3 pimp/sex trafficker arrests, 6 adult victims recovered.

• New York – 30 total arrests

  • New York Police Department – 30 johns arrested, 1,170 bot contacts.

• Nevada – 37 total arrests

  • Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department – 37 johns arrested.

• Pennsylvania – 25 total arrests

  • Pittsburgh Bureau of Police – 25 johns arrested.

• Texas – 208 total arrests

  • Harris County Sheriff’s Office – 77 johns arrested, 3 adult victims recovered.
  • Houston Police Department – 89 johns arrested, 9 pimp/sex trafficker arrests, 5 adult victims recovered, 3 juvenile victims recovered, 59 bot contacts.
  • Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office – 28 johns arrested, 212 bot contacts
    • Among those arrested was an off-duty HSI Immigration Officer who answered an internet ad.
    • Additionally, 5 individuals – one of whom is a registered sex offender – were arrested for online solicitation of a minor.

• Washington – 36 total arrests

  • Seattle Police Department – 33 johns arrested, 92 bot contacts, 17 adult victims recovered.
  • In addition, 2 men – one of whom is a registered sex offender – were arrested for indecent solicitation after traveling to meet who they thought was a 15-year-old girl for sex. And a motel manager was arrested for permitting prostitution at his establishment.

Special thank you to Demand Abolition for their continued support of this national initiative.