Boone County, MO

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

Boone County is located in central Missouri and has a population of approximately 188,000. Its county seat is Columbia, Missouri’s fourth-largest city and location of the University of Missouri. Prostitution activity has been well-documented within the county, and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking. Prostitution related violence and child sexual abuse materials have also been well documented within the county. For example, in March, 2017, two Columbia men were arrested after the FBI executed a search warrant at a home and were held at the Boone County Jail on a federal hold. They were charged with using the internet to promote a prostitution business that operated out of a Columbia residence, according to the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri. Also in March, 2017, in a separate but related case, another man was charged in March 2017 on an eight-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Jefferson City. The indictment alleged that the man induced three victims to travel across state lines to engage in prostitution and illicit sexual activity. He was charged with three counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion, in addition to charges related to transportation for illegal sexual activity by coercion and enticement. Because one of the victims was under 18, he also was charged with transporting a minor across state lines for illegal sexual activity and with sex trafficking a minor. During an FBI investigation, agents learned that the minor, then a 17-year-old runaway from Wisconsin, was being held against her will and forced into prostitution. She was found in Columbia and removed from the house by law enforcement agents. She told investigators that a man paid for escort advertisements on the website Backpage. A second man collected a “door fee” from the “prostitutes” (i.e., trafficking victims), which ranged from $10 to $30, applied the income to the monthly bills, then split the remaining profit between the two men. The girl told investigators she met one of the men in May 2016 at a party in Milwaukee and agreed to travel with him to Columbia. Within a few minutes of arriving at the Columbia residence used as a brothel, a man arrived soliciting prostitution. He selected the girl, paid to sexually abuse her, and the girl said she “engaged in prostitution” almost every day afterward, averaging two or three clients per day. Another victim told police that one of the men threatened to kick her to the streets if she did not do what he wanted. When she told him she would work as a dancer to make money, she said he pulled out a handgun and pointed it at her. A third victim identified in the documents said she ran away from the man in late May or early June 2016. The key defendant was arrested in February when he appeared for a Boone County court appearance on an unrelated matter.

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. Demand reduction tactics used in the town include reverse stings, and the disclosure of sex buyer identities. For example, in July, 2013, detectives with the Boone County Sheriff’s Department Cyber Crimes Task Force and Detectives with the ProActive Unit arrested a 29 year old man on a variety of sexual offenses regarding the solicitation of a minor child. The investigation began when the Cyber Crimes Task Force received information from a local resident. Cyber Crimes Task Force investigators discovered the suspect had reportedly been offering money to have sexual contact with a young child. Task Force investigators began an undercover investigation posing as a mother of a child who would allow such contact with her for money. During the next few weeks the suspect is alleged to have negotiated with the child’s mother regarding payment for this service. The suspect is also alleged to have sent the child’s mother child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often called “child pornography” in state laws) depicting the sexual abuse of a 9 year old girl in an attempt to gain the mother’s trust. Arrangements were made for the suspect to meet the child’s decoy mother at a specific Columbia location where he would give the woman the agreed upon payment. When the suspect arrived at the meeting site, he was arrested by undercover detectives and a cellular telephone was seized from the suspect. This cell phone is alleged to have over 20 photographs of CSAM on the device. Children depicted in these photographs are believed to be as young as toddlers. The suspect was identified in press releases, and was arrested for the suspicion of the “distribution of child pornography, the possession of child pornography,” attempted statutory rape, attempted statutory sodomy, and a felony offense of patronizing prostitution. The suspect was taken into custody in the Boone County Jail awaied the filing of formal charges by the Boone County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. A bond has not yet been set. All suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The Boone County Sheriff’s Department Cyber Crimes Task Force is comprised of investigators from the Boone County Sheriff’s Department, the University of Missouri Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations. The Boone County Sheriff’s Department Cyber Crimes Task Force is part of the Missouri Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is and supported by funding made available through MO ICAC from the US Department of JusticeOffice of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.


Key Partners

  • Boone County Sheriff’s Department
    • Cyber Crimes Task Force
  • Boone County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
  • Columbia Police Department
  • University of Missouri Police Department
  • Federal Bureau of Investigations
State Missouri
Type County
Population 187804
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