Las Vegas police have arrested prostitutes as young as 11 working the city’s streets and hotel corridors, Det. Sgt. Gil Shannon tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The number of juveniles apprehended for prostitution in the city has soared, bolstered by pimps who are bringing teenagers in from other states to become part of the city’s illegal sex-for-sale industry. Although some Nevada counties have legalized adult prostitution, Las Vegas’s Clark County has not. This year, Las Vegas police have arrested more than 25 juvenile prostitutes. In 2004, Shannon said, 207 prostitutes under the age of 18 were arrested. In 1996, that figure was 72.
The public perception that juvenile prostitutes are runaways who come mainly from urban ghettos is false, Shannon said. The girls who end up being arrested in undercover vice operations include teenagers from families that are middle class and high income. Roughly half of the teen prostitutes apprehended in Las Vegas are from outside Nevada. The twin issues of juvenile prostitution and trafficking have garnered the attention of both local and federal law enforcement agencies. “Sex traffickers or pimps debriefed by the FBI indicate approximately 20-40 percent of the victims forced or recruited into prostitution are juveniles,” said FBI official Chris Swecker. Law enforcement’s effort to crack down on trafficking and child prostitution is also reflected in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, where the docket is swelling with cases against individuals who’ve recruited girls from other states to work the underground Vegas sex trade.