Anchorage, AK

Tactics Used

Buyer Arrests
Reverse stings
Shaming
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Letters
Cameras
Web stings
License suspension

Anchorage is a city of approximately 294,000 residents, making it Alaska’s largest city. It is located in the south-central part of the state, well below the Arctic Circle. Anchorage residents comprise more than a third of the state’s population (approx. 732,000). There is a long history of widespread prostitution in the city, dating back to the gold rush and fueled in part by industries that are staffed predominantly by men (e.g., oilfield work, fisheries, construction, defense). Violence against those engaged in prostitution has been documented for just as long. Sex trafficking has also been well-documented in the city and surrounding areas, including the Mat-Su Valley, and such cases have been investigated and successfully prosecuted. For example, in April of 2021, an Anchorage man was convicted on five counts of sex trafficking of minors, three counts of production of child pornography and two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The verdict came after a three-day federal bench trial. According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, in 2018, a 35-year-old man conspired with another person to traffic two female minors, one 15-years-old and one 17-years-old. Both minors were runaways who stayed with the offender at his co-conspirator’s apartment. While at the apartment, they created an online advertisement that was used to market the minors. The man then assisted his co-conspirator in trafficking the victims; encouraging them to perform sex acts for money; serving as “protection” for the minors and driving one of them to a “date” to be sexually exploited for money. Additionally, the man produced child pornography with one of the minors on two separate occasions. The city has also had cases of prostituted women murdered and mutilated, and has been the site of at least one serial killer who specifically targeted prostituted women – and murdered at least 17.

Driven in part by community complaints, Anchorage police have engaged in a number of strategies to combat prostitution and sex trafficking, and have chosen to address their source: consumer-level demand. Anchorage police conduct periodic street-level and web-based reverse stings. For example, in 1997, 12 sex buyers were arrested in a street-level reverse sting operation where men were arrested after attempting to purchase sex from undercover female officers. Arrestees may have their identities publicized, their autos seized, be placed on geographic probation (SOAP order), and perform community service as a condition of a sentence for soliciting. By municipal ordinance, auto seizure can occur after any first-time arrest, but after a second arrest police can start forfeiture proceedings on vehicles seized from sex buyers.

In January, 2022, the Alaska State Troopers Special Crimes Investigation Unit (SCIU) conducted multiple “prostitution patron stings” in Fairbanks and Anchorage in January 2022 resulting in charges against 22 men that attempted to solicit sex. Troopers posed as women soliciting sex for money during the operation and contacted the men when they arrived at various locations in each community. All 22 men contacted during the operation were charged with the Class B Misdemeanor of Prostitution. The identities of the 13 men arrested during the Anchorage operation were publicly disclosed. Alaska law prohibits payment for sexual conduct under AS 11.66.100(a)(2). In a press release about the operation, the Director of the Alaska State Troopers said,

“Prostitution is not a victimless crime, and is often financially intertwined with sex trafficking, drug trafficking, violent crimes, and sexual assault. Your Alaska State Troopers are committed to investigating and working with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable anyone who victimizes Alaskans. The Alaska State Troopers are planning additional operations in the future to help reduce demand for these illicit services across the state.”

Key Partners

  • Anchorage Police Department
  • FBI
  • State of Alaska Task Force on the Crimes of Human Trafficking, Promoting Prostitution and Sex Trafficking

Key Sources

National Assessment Survey and Interviews

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Disclosure of Identities, Vehicle Seizure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Disclosure of Identities:

Auto Seizure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Alaska
Type City
Population 293531
Location
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