February 13 2018

Police Fighting Human Trafficking and Sex Trade


The Burlington Police Department has participated in a national effort to fight against the problem of human trafficking.


Police Chief Michael R. Kent said that the department is making significant strides in its effort to combat human sex trafficking, and earlier this month participated in a series of coordinated sting operations that led to more than 630 arrests across the nation.


According to a release, Burlington Police were part of the 15th National Johns Suppression Initiative operation that ran from Jan. 7 through Feb. 4 and included more than 30 law enforcement agencies across 16 states. Through this operation, Burlington Police arrested five men after conducting a reverse sting operation at a local hotel that targeted potential customers for prostitution.


The effort, police say, was meant to stop human trafficking and disrupt the harm caused by the illegal sex trade. Over the last six years, the Burlington Police Department has made more than 46 arrests at local hotels through undercover prostitution stings.


"The Burlington Police Department is committed to conducting these sting operations to prevent human trafficking incidents at our area businesses," Kent said. "We know that this is not a victimless crime and we'll continue to work locally, along with our regional and national partners to put an end to these cyclical crimes."


One factor in the number of these types of crimes occurring in Burlington may be, police say, the increase in the number available hotel rooms that has followed its economic development. Another factor is location. Burlington is at or near the intersections of three major highways north of Boston that allows for easy access.


“The growth of Burlington’s hotel industry — eight hotels online or in development — has spurred economic opportunities for the town and its business base, but with this growth has come an increase in crime,” the release states. “Recently, there have been several assaults and robberies, two confirmed cases of human trafficking and the discovery of a drug lab in a Burlington hotel.”


Burlington’s hotels are working with police to help curb crime at their establishments, an effort that was increased after two men murdered a woman at the Extended Stay America Hotel after arranging a meeting with her through an online adult services website.


“As a result, hotel leadership has become a vital partner for law enforcement in preventing violent crimes from occurring,” the release states.


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