National Sex Buyer Stings Reach 10,000 Arrests

Feb 5, 2020Press Release

A national operation aimed at deterring johns and disrupting the online facilitation of sex trafficking made its 10,000th arrest since 2011 during the latest sting, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today.

The 10,000th arrest was made during the 19th National Johns Suppression Initiative (NJSI), which ran from Jan. 1 through Feb. 2. During this operation a total of 451* buyers were arrested by 22 law enforcement agencies from across the country, including 157 arrests via stings led by Cook County Sheriff’s Police.

Approximately two-thirds of the arrests were related to internet ads, with operations typically involving reverse-stings where sex buyers respond to a decoy ad and solicit an undercover officer.

Some notable arrests include:
• Houston Police arrested a day care worker and a state prison correctional officer for attempting to purchase sex from an undercover officer.
• Mesa (AZ) Police had nine arrests on charges of either luring of a minor for sexual exploitation or attempted sexual conduct with a minor.
• The Tarrant County, (TX) Sheriff’s Office had three arrests for prostitution of a person less than 18 years old and two arrests for online solicitation of a minor.

Sex buyers are on notice,” Sheriff Dart said. “Paying for sex ultimately fuels sex trafficking and all the violence and abuse that comes with it.”

In addition to police officers participating in undercover operations, decoy internet ads were also posted that connected to an AI bot, created by The bot interacts with johns and eventually sends a deterrence message warning of the legal and social dangers of trafficking.

Cook County Sheriff’s Police and eight other agencies utilized the bot, cumulatively engaging 1,627 potential sex buyers. Throughout the year 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.

Agencies that participated in the latest operation include the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, Cook County Sheriff’s Police, Matteson (IL) Police, Rosemont (IL) Police, Lansing (IL) Police, Orland Hills (IL) Police, Chandler (AZ) Police, Des Moines (WA) Police, Houston Police, Howard County (MD), Las Vegas Metropolitan Police, Lake County (IL) Sheriff’s Office, the McHenry County (IL) Human Trafficking Task Force, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Mesa (AZ) Police, New York Police, Phoenix Police, Rockford (IL) Police, Tarrant County (TX) Sheriff’s Office, Tempe (AZ) Police, Upper Merion Township (PA) Police, and the West Alabama Human Trafficking Taskforce.

Agencies utilizing the bot included the Boston Police Department, Des Moines (WA) Police Department, McHenry County (IL), Human Trafficking Task Force, New York Police Department, Portland Police Bureau, Seattle Police Department, Tarrant County Sheriff Office and the Upper Merion Township (PA) Police Department.

Sheriff Dart started NJSI in 2011 to draw national attention to the role sex buyers play in fueling sex trafficking. More than 140 agencies in 25 states have participated since 2011.

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