Tuscaloosa police help in nationwide effort to fight prostitution, sex trafficking

Tuscaloosa police help in nationwide effort to fight prostitution, sex trafficking
Source: WBRC Video

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - The Tuscaloosa Police Department was the only department in Alabama to participate in the nationwide Johns Suppression Initiative.

Officers here hope it will cut down on the amount of prostitution and sex trafficking happening here. Forty-seven of the 630 suspects arrested nationwide were captured here in Tuscaloosa.

"It's not necessarily we've got more of a problem than anywhere else. It's more of the fact I think our department is taking an aggressive approach towards this problem," Lt. Darren Beams told WBRC.

Beams says they targeted commercial sex buyers -- or johns -- during an investigation using undercover officers posing as prostitutes.

On the weekends of January 12-13 and January 19-20, officers targeted suspects soliciting prostitution in Tuscaloosa through online ads promoting "sex for sale."

But the men accused of paying for sex aren't always their focus.

"Over the past year, we've made control with 70 females that came through our area attempting to provide commercial sex," Beams added.

Interstate access makes it easier for sex traffickers to come to Tuscaloosa than some other communities.

So police want those willing to pay for sex to think twice before coming here to buy it.

"We're part of a circuit cause of the interstate obviously with human trafficking and we've made cases right now in the state of Alabama. Out of 31 cases made in 2017, eight of them are ours," Beams said.

Police hope these arrests will limit prostitution and sex trafficking here in the future.

None of the 47 people arrested in Tuscaloosa in January were charged with human trafficking.

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