Arizona police investigate "sex trafficking" by paying victims to perform sex acts on them

Two Flagstaff, Arizona police officers went undercover to massage parlors, took their pants off, and allowed themselves to be fondled. One of the officers, Dustin Eberhardt, repeated this eight different times at various massage parlors over a 48-hour period. The other officer, only identified as "Officer Hutchinson," went to some of the same massage parlors and repeated these same actions five different times.   

The officers were part of a months-long investigation in 2019 conducted by Homeland Security Investigations and Flagstaff Police Department that focused on human trafficking, sex trafficking, and prostitution. However, "not a single trafficking victim" was identified at the end of the investigation; instead, the investigation has raised numerous ethical and legal concerns. Investigative reporter Zach Crenshaw has been covering the case for and has written a thorough and damning article about it.

Crenshaw describes at least three ways in which these activities are illegal and problematic:

Defense attorneys, trafficking experts and even other law enforcement tell ABC15 there are a litany of issues with how this operation was conducted. For starters, state law clearly outlines that what the officers detailed in their reports is illegal.

Second, experts say the fondling was not necessary for police and prosecutors to pursue prostitution charges.

Third, investigators repeatedly said they were looking into "sex trafficking" and then proceeded to pay for sex acts from potential victims.

So, these officers engaged in sex trafficking, not once or twice, but EIGHT and FIVE times each. And yet, they are not currently being charged with anything. Flagstaff Police Chief Dan Musselman not only is not going to prosecute his officers but has the gall to claim that the officers are actually the victims here. Crenshaw reports that Chief Musselman stated: "Quite the opposite happened, the subject fondled Officer Eberhardt thereby making him the victim of Sexual Abuse under 13-1404."

Zach Crenshaw will continue to keep us updated on this incredibly disturbing case; for now you can read his initial reporting here