Arvada is a suburb of Denver with over 100,000 residents. Prostitution and child sex trafficking have been well-documented in the city for over 30 years. Sinceconsumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, it has been targeted by local law enforcement agencies in their strategy for prevention and response. The Arvada Police Department has conducted reverse stings to reduce commercial sex sales in the area since at least 1990, when police placed a bogus advertisement for escort service. The ad drew over 1,200 calls, and men arranged to meet a police decoy at a furnished apartment. Sixty-five sex buyers were arrested.
Reverse stings have been conducted since then, and have expanded to internet-based operations that target men seeking to buy sex with children. For example, in April, 2016, federal law enforcement agencies conducted operations to curb sex trafficking and exploitation during World Cannabis Week in Colorado, including the Arvada area. Five children were recovered, nine adults were arrested for trafficking and 26 were arrested for prostitution. The sex trafficking operations were conducted across the Denver Metro area and along the Front Range during the week of April 18 because large-scale events attract tourists and a can also create a demand for prostitution. FBI personnel conducted research before and after World Cannabis Week in 2015 and noted a 35 percent increase in the number of online escort postings, and nearly 40 percent of escorts told police they traveled to Colorado for the special event. The cooperative effort included participation from the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, Arvada Police Department, Colorado Trafficking and Organized Crime Coalition, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Golden Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Rocky Mountain Innocence Lost Task Force, and Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force.
In September, 2018, a 31-year-old man was arrested by Arvada police in connection with child sex trafficking. He was charged in Jefferson County District Court with two counts of child sex trafficking, soliciting for child prostitution, sexual exploitation of a child and sexual assault of a minor. He was arrested by Arvada and Aurora police in the 23000 block of East Alabama Drive in Aurora, the Arvada Police Department confirmed, and was held in the Jefferson County jail on $25,000 bond. His photo and identifying information were publicly reported.
- Arvada Police Department
- Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office
- Rocky Mountain Innocence Lost Task Force
- Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force
- Colorado Trafficking and Organized Crime Coalition
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Homeland Security Investigations
- “Personal Ad in News Nets 65 Prostitution Arrests”, Rocky Mountain News, May 10 1990.
- “Vice Sting Nets 65 Arrests; Arvada Police Get 1,200 Inquiries about Prostitution Services”, Denver Post, May 10 1990.
- “Arvada Sting Put Clamp on Artificial Vice”, Denver Post, May 15 1990.
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- https://www.krdo.com/news/local-news/dozens-arrested-in-sex-trafficking-bust-in-colorado (2016)
- https://patch.com/colorado/arvada/alleged-arvada-child-sex-trafficker-appear-court (2018)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Foster Child Allegedly Pimped through Craigslist for Cash, Meth by Robert Felix Gonzales”, ABC/KMGH-TV 7, November 7 2013.
- “Arvada Man Charged with Operating Metro Area Sex Trafficking Ring”, FOX/KDVR-TV 31, March 5 2014.
- “Joe Avalos Charged in Sex Trafficking Ring in Arvada, Wheat Ridge, and Boulder”, ABC/KMGH-TV 7, March 5 2014.
- “Suburban Denver Man Charged with Pimping Teens”, CBS/KCNC-TV 4, March 5 2014.