Super Bowl Sex Trafficking Sting Nets Over 500 Sex Buyers, 30 Pimps

Feb 9, 2016Press Release

A national coalition of law enforcement agencies conducted a sting operation that led to 552 arrests – 522 would-be sex buyers (or “johns”) and 30 pimps or sex traffickers – Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today.

The National Johns Suppression Initiative (NJSI) ran for approximately three weeks from Jan. 17 – Feb. 7 (Super Bowl Sunday), bringing together 23 law enforcement agencies throughout 14 states in a widespread crackdown on the demand for purchased sex. These operations were launched by Sheriff Dart in 2011 to highlight the role of sex solicitors as perpetrators to this violent and exploitative industry, leading to the arrests of more than 4,400 total johns over 11 national stings.

The results of the latest National Johns Suppression Initiative reflect growing momentum for this national movement. The operation also targeted pimps and traffickers who have forced victims into lives of prostitution. 30 men were taken into custody on charges of sex trafficking, pimping or promoting prostitution.

Among those agencies was the Sheriff’s Office of Santa Clara, the site of Super Bowl 50.

“Sex trafficking continues to destroy countless lives, and this broad national movement should send a strong message to prospective johns that their ‘hobby’ is much more than a ‘victimless’ crime,” said Sheriff Dart. “It’s particularly meaningful that this sting culminated on the day of the Super Bowl, which unfortunately has emerged as a prominent haven for sex trafficking.”

Cumulative numbers from the 2016 “National Johns Suppression Initiative” campaign are as follows:

  • 30 sex trafficking arrests
  • 522 sex solicitation arrests (johns)
  • $187,000 in minimum fines for sex solicitation
  • 73 adult victims recovered
  • 3 juvenile victims recovered

Noteworthy anecdotes from the sweep include:

  • The Harris County Sheriff’s Office arrested 121 johns in total throughout multiple sting operations.
  • Las Vegas PD arrested 15 men on sex trafficking/promoting prostitution charges, while Houston PD arrested 9 men on sex trafficking/promoting prostitution charges
  • The Cook County Sheriff’s Office rescued 26 women, offering them protective and counseling services.
  • Seattle PD arrested a john who had recently escaped from jail. Seattle PD also arrested a registered sex offender who attempted to convince the undercover female detective into coming to prostitute for him, resulting in promoting prostitution charges.
  • The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office detained a member of the Denver Broncos who was in town for the Super Bowl. The player’s brother was cited for solicitation.
  • Mesa PD conducted a juvenile sting operation, resulting in eight men being charged with felony solicitation of a minor.
  • The Harris County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Houston city employee who was pulled up in a city vehicle.
  • The Lake County (Indiana) Sheriff’s Office arrested and charged a man with three counts of sex with minors.
  • Cook County Sheriff’s Police arrested a john who pulled up in an Uber, the mobile taxi service.

Agencies who participated in the latest NJSI include:

  • Arizona
    • Glendale PD – 18 johns
    • Mesa PD – 8 johns
    • Phoenix PD – 6 johns, 1 trafficker
  • Arkansas
    • Little Rock PD – 42 johns
  • California
    • Hayward PD – 3 johns, 1 trafficker
    • Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office – 30 johns
  • Georgia
    • Dekalb PD – 3 johns
  • Illinois
    • Cook County Sheriff’s Office (in partnership with suburban agencies Broadview PD, Lansing PD, Matteson PD) – 79 johns
  • Indiana
    • Lake County Sheriff’s Office – 1 john
  • Maryland
    • Howard County Sheriff’s Office – 8 johns
  • Massachusetts
    • Boston PD – 18 johns
  • Nebraska
    • Lincoln PD – 6 johns, 2 traffickers
  • Nevada
    • Las Vegas PD – 22 johns, 15 traffickers
    • Reno PD – 12 johns
  • Oregon
    • Portland PD – 6 johns
  • Pennsylvania
    • Pittsburgh PD – 23 johns, 2 traffickers
  • Texas
    • Harris County Sheriff’s Office – 121 johns
    • Harris County Constable (Precincts 1 & 4) – 19 johns
    • Houston PD – 43 johns, 9 traffickers
  • Washington
    • Seattle PD – 54 johns

*Special thanks to Demand Abolition for their support of this national initiative