Sting operations: clients charged US$1000-2000 for making deals with cop-prostitutes

I have never understood how sting operations can be legal in any situation, but when police use them in prostitution contexts they generally pose as clients, with the aim of catching sex workers. In the story below they posed as prostitutes in order to entrap clients. This is justified by referring to vile behaviour, an antiquated phrase for the 21st century. And given so many other, more dangerous urban problems, investing money and time into catching men who buy sex seems silly. [Note: the photo is from a different story, the recent Chinese one that had police parading women prostitutes through the streets. Some people asked why their clients were not subjected to similar shaming; as this picture shows, to some extent they were.]

Another question to consider about this story: How will the 2-year-old be damaged, exactly?

Elgin arrests 11 in reverse prostitution sting

Lenore T. Adkins, 8 August 2010, Daily Herald (suburban Chicago)

Eleven men were arrested Friday night in Elgin during a reverse prostitution sting staged by police officers in the city’s downtown. As part of the three-hour undercover operation in the National Street area, several Elgin officers posed as prostitutes. The men approached them, offering $20 for sex, said Lt. Glenn Theriault.

According to police, one of the men had his 2-year-old son with him. The child’s mother picked the boy up from the police station on Friday night. And officers contacted the Illinois Department of Children of Family Services. “When people think this type of crime is a victimless crime, tell that to the 2-year-old or the mother of the 2-year-old,” Police Chief Jeff Swoboda said.

All 11 alleged offenders were arrested under a local ordinance for soliciting a prostitute, which carries a minimum fine of $1,000. They are [follows a list of names and addresses] . . .

The following men were arrested under the local ordinance and for additional charges [follows another list] . . .

Out of the 11 men arrested on Friday night, 10 had motor vehicles and must pay $1,000 to retrieve them under a separate ordinance, Theriault said. Everyone will have their case heard Aug. 14 before a hearing officer at the Elgin branch court.

This is certainly a huge number of suspects for such a short period of time and clearly tells me that we’ll be back there again soon,” Theriault said. With Friday’s sting and others like it, Elgin police intend to send the message they will not tolerate this sort of activity in town. They are also determined to reduce the crimes it creates.

This type of vile behavior is simply unacceptable,” Theriault said. “It’s unfortunate that for such an incredibly vibrant downtown, these incidents that occur in one isolated corner … paint the entire area with the same brush.”

The police department’s patrol, gang, drug and technical investigation units conducted the probe, which marked the second such sting of the summer. Elgin police ran a similar crackdown in July that officers cut short due to the rain and that resulted in one arrest, Theriault said.

8 thoughts on “Sting operations: clients charged US$1000-2000 for making deals with cop-prostitutes

  1. Iamcuriousblue

    For outdoor prostitution, this kind of sting is actually very common, and is among several reasons street prostitution has declined so dramatically over the past couple of decades. Its one of the main ways that “john schools” keep filled. Oakland, California proposed the idea of *vehicle seizures*, which amounts to a multi-thousand dollar fine depending on the value of the vehicle. Not sure if that was ever implemented.

    More rare, expensive to carry out, and far more invasive is when cops do hotel rooms stings to bust escorts and escort customers. There’s now a lot of pressure from the usual suspects in the “anti-trafficking” movement to step this kind of thing up.

  2. laura agustin Post author

    that’s interesting. if it’s common, why call it ‘reverse sting’? anyway i have not heard of it in rest-of-world, i think. but then i don’t know how extensive and legal sting operations are outside prohibitionist paradise!

  3. Amanda

    The usual sting is to catch female sex workers. Catching male clients is the “reverse.” Cops so rarely ever touch gay/male sex workers in any context — it’s all about the male/female interaction.


  4. Laura Agustín

    we are all agreed that cops go after the prostitution situation in which men buy, women sell. my information has been that the common sting is for male cops to pose as clients, in order to catch female sex workers. therefore to do the ‘reverse’ is unusual. iamcuriousblue seems to be saying that doing this reverse is common. is that your impression, too?

  5. Amanda

    Oh yes, reverse stings are common enough. They’re very common for street work, not quite so much for indoor work but it’s increasing thanks to online classifieds sites.

    Let me qualify “common”: for every 10 or 20 stings, there is a reverse sting. I don’t have numbers to back this up, only reading of news articles so this is a VERY general estimate. Given FBI stats, clients account for 10% of prostitution-related arrests. The rest are the providers.


  6. Serpent

    I think these kind of stings will become much more common in Illinois now that the End Demand legislation was passed here last week increasing the penalties for some prostitution related crimes. Also written into that bill are increased vehicle impoundement fees which stand to make organizations involved with promoting the bill more money.

  7. laura agustin Post author

    what distinguishes a reverse sting from entrapment, then, which is prohibited in US law, i think. this area of prostitution policing isn’t familiar to me outside the US.

  8. Amanda

    The US’s “entrapment” laws are very loose and heavily tilted in favor of the cops. It’s nearly impossible for someone to successfully argue entrapment in the US, especially when it comes to prostitution. Cops are allowed to do anything they want for a bust. It’s not “entrapment” because they weren’t convincing anyone to do anything they wouldn’t already be doing (so the logic goes).



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