Prostitution: Law Enforcement Across the Nation Targets “Johns”

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Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart announced the results of the second “National Day of Johns Arrests.” Building on the momentum of last year’s Columbus Day weekend pilot sweep of “Johns,” 20 United States law enforcement agencies in 8 different states simultaneously conducted sting activities on the streets, in hotels and brothels, and via the internet over a 10 day period that ended last night. A total of 314 sex buyers also known as “Johns” were arrested and charged with nearly $475,000 in fines.

Buyers of sex are increasingly becoming the target of law enforcement efforts to end prostitution and sex trafficking. Law enforcement recognizes that sex buyers perpetuate a violent, exploitative industry. If no one were to buy sex, pimps and traffickers would not be supplying bars, back alleys and websites with victims.

“Large sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, bring out competitiveness in all of us, including, unfortunately, pimps and sex traffickers,” said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. “In the days leading up to and including Super Bowl Sunday, my office coordinated with 19 other law enforcement agencies from around the country to send a strong message that our communities refuse to tolerate the sale of human beings for sex. Although we are all proud of the hard work our agencies put into this operation, the numbers below speak to the unfortunate reality that there is still work ahead of us to solve the problem completely.”

As a result of the sweep:
565 total individuals were arrested during the sting
314 men were arrested for soliciting sex
227 misdemeanor arrests (includes prostitution)
2 human trafficking arrests
5 pimping arrests
3 pandering arrests
4 theft arrests
10 possession/delivery of drugs arrests
12 weapons charges
667 total charges were filed
114 vehicles were towed
Up to $474,300 may be collected in fines

Participating law enforcement agencies include:
Cook County Sheriff’s Office (Illinois) – lead coordinating agency
F.B.I. Chicago Division – Orland Park Office (Illinois)
Aurora PD (Illinois)
Elgin PD (Illinois)
Kane County Sheriff’s Office (Illinois)
Indianapolis Metro PD (Indiana)
Boston PD (Massachusetts)
Los Angeles PD (California)
Phoenix PD (Arizona)
Las Vegas PD (Nevada)
Newport News PD (Virginia)
Cincinnati PD (Ohio)
Dayton PD (Ohio)
F.B.I. and other federal agencies in collaboration with counties and municipalities

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office has taken the lead in coordinating the nationwide sweeps as part of an on-going effort to highlight the role of sex buyers as perpetrators, while providing support for prostituted individuals through its Human Trafficking Response Team (HTRT). The HTRT is comprised of survivors of prostitution who work closely with the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Officers trained to identify victims that have been led into prostitution out of desperation and survival. Victims are offered services and safe housing opportunities to assist them in leaving their current situation.

Victims that were prostituted/trafficked during the sweep were offered rescue and restore services by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office HTRT, the FBI and other jurisdictional programs such as Newport News, Virginia’s Prostitution Intervention Program (PIP).

U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) is investigating the exploitation of an illegal female Chinese immigrant identified in a Newport News, Virginia sting operation.

During the sexual exploitation process, offenders usually perpetrate a number of different offenses as arrests totals from this sting reflect, once again proving the linkage between these types of activities and other criminal offences such as possession or distribution of weapons or drugs.

As part of its focus on ending demand, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office produced a “John’s School” DVD for partnering law enforcement agencies to be shown to people arrested for soliciting sex from a prostituted/trafficked individual. The “John’s School” curriculum, which varies slightly across the 80+ programs throughout the United States, is designed to deter individuals from pursuing commercial sex by educating them on the legal, health and other consequences of solicitation. A study sponsored by the National Institute of Justice analyzed San Francisco’s First Offender Prostitution Program and found it reduced recidivism rate by at least 40%.

Public awareness around the operation and dissemination of 4,000 “John’s School” DVDs was made possible through a grant given by Demand Abolition, a program of Hunt Alternatives Fund based in Cambridge, MA. Demand Abolition supports the movement to end modern slavery by combating the demand for illegal commercial sex in the United States. Staff members from the Cook County Sheriff’s Women’s Justice Services Program serve as advisors to Demand Abolition.

Additional information, including a summary of all data collected as a result of this collaborative sting operation, will be available by the end of the week on the websites of the Cook County Sheriff ( and Demand Abolition (

If you have further questions, below is a list of Public Information Officers from participating jurisdictions:

*Director Frank Bilecki, Cook County IL Sheriff’s Office Director of External Affairs
*Sue Olafson, Elgin IL PD Public Information Officer
*Dan Ferrelli, Aurora IL PD Public Information Officer
*Lou Thurston, New Port News VA PD Public Information Officer
*Danita Kilgore, Cincinnati OH PD Public Information Officer
*Officer Bill Cassell, Las Vegas NV PD Public Information Officer
*Commander Andrew Smith, Los Angeles CA PD Public Information Officer
*Sgt. Steve Martos, Phoenix AZ PD Public Information Officer
*Elaine Driscoll, Boston, MA PD Public Information Officer
*Det. Cayce Cantrell, Dayton OH PD Public Information Officer
*Linda Jackson, Indianapolis IN PD Public Information Officer
*Carol Edgar, Demand Abolition Campaign Public Information Officer

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