Sex Workers Sting

In September of 2021, The Dalles Police Department, with the assistance of the Sherman County Sheriff’s Office, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Gilliam County Sheriff’s Office, and the Mid-Columbia Human Trafficking Task Force, conducted an online sting operation that targeted the demand side of prostitution and sex trafficking.

This operation was important because a large percentage of those individuals who perform acts associated with prostitution and sex trafficking are often doing so against their will and for the benefit of someone else. Sex workers are often enlisted, groomed, and eventually enslaved as sex performers through drug use, threats of violence and exposure, coercion, and other methods, at a young age and may have known little of any other lifestyle. Human trafficking continues to exploit our young and vulnerable people, and destroys lives that would otherwise be hopeful and productive. While the “Johns” or sex purchasing clients do not usually personally enlist and groom individuals involved in human trafficking, they are the demand that fuels this industry, and are therefore part of the problem.

Investigators posted fake advertisements online for commercial sex. Four arrests were made as a result of the operation. The majority of those arrests were local individuals who reside in the area of The Dalles. All of the arrestees were charged with ORS 167.008 (Commercial Sexual Solicitation), a class A misdemeanor.This operation was incredibly important because it provided the participating agencies a snapshot of how much prostitution and human trafficking occur within our communities.

• For inquires about the Mid-Columbia Human Trafficking Task Force and its efforts to combat human trafficking, e-mail traffickingcoordinator@mchttf.org.

• For resources related to human trafficking, e-mail traffickingcoordinator@mchttf.org.

• Tips of suspected human trafficking can be reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

All cases have been referred to the Wasco County, and Sherman County District Attorney’s Office for review and potential prosecution.

Chief Worthy said, “This operation, coupled with the Sex Offender Registration compliance sweep conducted on August 26th demonstrates our agencies combined resolve to combat the community problems and harm that result from sexual misconduct and the associated crimes that surround that behavior. I’m incredibly proud of our agencies ability to work together to keep the region safe. Our efforts in this regard will continue.”