WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — Several Washington County officials worked together to target sex trafficking victims, suspects along with child sex predators, and individuals supporting sex work in general.

Officials report 19 suspects were arrested or detained. 12 of the 19 suspects are facing charges ranging from sexual solicitation of a minor to prostitution and even possession of drugs with the intent of distribution.

During this operation, a number of sex workers and victims were located and 7 of the 19 people who were detained, for charges of prostitution, sexual exploitation, or even drug-related charges, will not face those charges at this time as they have been placed into the harm reduction programs run by the Washington County Health Department.

The harm reduction programs run by the Washington County Health Department will provide risk reduction education programs and access to treatment.

Sgt. Andrew Lewis with the Hagerstown Police Department told WDVM the harm reduction programs will give people all of the resources they need to get out of their current line of work.

“We can arrest people all day long, but if we don’t be able to help and give them the services that they need, it’s going to continue,” Sgt. Lewis said. “So if we get them on the right track, our goal is to get out of this profession and make the community a better place.”