Boise, ID

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Boise is the largest city in and state capitol of Idaho, and the government seat of Ada County. It has a population of roughly 230,000 residents and is located in the southwest portion of the state near the Oregon border. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in Boise and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of Ada County. Boise’s history of prostitution has been well-documented in newspapers since the late 1800s, frequently mentioned in the Idaho Statesman. For example, in August 1889, the paper started a campaign against brothels. A city ordinance “To Suppress Bawdy Houses and Houses of Ill-Fame in the Vicinity of Public Schools in Boise City” was passed by the council on Sept. 5, 1889.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Ada County law enforcement officials reported a connection between an increase in local homicides to an increase in prostitution activity in the county. According to an Ada County prosecutor, the county accounted for 2/3 of the state’s prostitution arrests. The prosecutor also noted an increase in the number of violent prostitution-related incidents such as the targeted homicides of two known prostituted women in the late 1970s. The problems and ancillary crimes created by prostitution generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. For example, in February 2022, a Boise man pleaded guilty to transportation for prostitution and money laundering. According to court records, between July 2019 and June 2021, the offender was the manager of a business engaged in the interstate trafficking of two adult females, primarily between Idaho and Washington. In addition, the man allegedly threatened to beat and assault the women if they attempted to leave or refuse to engage in commercial sex activity. The offender faced a maximum penalty of twenty years in federal prison, a minimum of five years of supervised release, and a $500,000 fine or twice the amount involved in the offense, whichever was greater. Among the more serious crimes associated with local commercial sex market in this part of Idaho is child sex trafficking.

Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted as a strategy for prevention and response. To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, law enforcement agencies have collaborated on reverse stings, primarily focusing on individuals seeking to sexually exploit minors in exchange for money. For example, in March 2018, a coalition of law enforcement agencies collaborated on a web-based reverse sting targeting people seeking to sexually exploit minors in exchange for money. The operation was led by the Idaho Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which falls under the Office of the Attorney General, and resulted in the arrest of 10 men, five of which were charged in Ada County and five of which were charged in federal court. Participating agencies included the Department of Homeland Security, the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, the Boise Police Department, as well as additional detectives and prosecutors from around the Treasure Valley. The identities, ages, and charges of the arrested sex buyers were included in reports by local media outlets. The five men who were charged locally had their images released. The Department of Justice declined to release the images of the five federal arrestees.

In November 2018, 11 men were arrested and charged after the Idaho Attorney General’s Office conducted a sting operation over one weekend. “Operation Grand Canyon” targeted individuals seeking to sexually exploit children in exchange for money. Local law enforcement teamed with the Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children unit, as well as state and federal agencies. Seven of the men faced state charges, while four were charged in federal court. Mugshots were not released for defendants in the federal system. In September, 2021, another reverse sting resulted in the arrest of 11 sex buyers, all of whom had their identities included in news releases.

In addition to conducting web-based reverse sting operations, sex buyers have also been apprehended as the result of alternative investigations. For example, in 2010, what was initially a routine response to a home burglary alarm that had been set off at a local residence ended in the arrest of two women and one man on prostitution-related charges by Meridian police. When police arrived at the residence, they found two women and one man, who was significantly older than the women, arguing inside the residence. According to reports, the man had been attempting to leave the residence to end an argument about the price and type of sex acts the three would engage in, when someone inadvertently set off the alarm. The sex buyer told police that he had responded to the one of the woman’s ads on Craigslist, a website known for prostitution and sex trafficking, and arranged to meet the two women at the residence. Meridian police handed the case to the Boise City Attorney’s Office who made the arrests a few days following the incident. Both women were charged with prostitution, a misdemeanor, but the charge against one of the women was dropped as a result of her cooperation in the case. The man was found guilty of patronizing a prostitute, and was given a withheld judgement, meaning that if he completed a year of probation without any further incidents the charge could be removed from his record. The identities and images of arrested offenders were included in reports by local media outlets.

Loss of employment is also a consequence of buying sex in the county. For example, in 2018, as a result of the March 2018 child sexual exploitation investigation led by the Idaho ICAC Task Force, a 62-year-old physical education teacher at Longfellow Elementary School and Jefferson Elementary School and the JV boys basketball coach at Boise High School was one of the 10 male sex buyers arrested during the operation. According to reports, the sex buyer had agreed to meet a mother and her 15-year-old daughter for commercial sex during an online interaction with the undercover officer. Upon his arrival to the predetermined location, the offender was arrested by undercover officers and charged with attempted lewd conduct with a child under the age of 16—a felony offense. As a result of his arrest, he was placed on administrative leave pending the investigation, according to a Boise School District spokesman. In March 2019, the former teacher was sentenced to five years on felony probation and 90 days in county jail. In addition, the Boise School District confirmed that the offender’s employment with the school district had been terminated.

Key Partners

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Employment Loss, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

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 Idaho
Type City
Population 228057
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