Clear Lake, IA

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

Clear Lake is a city of about 7,600 residents located in Cerro Gordo County, Iowa.  The city is named for the large lake on which it is located, and the city has marinas, state parks, and numerous tourism-related businesses.  Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of Cerro Gordo County, going back for more than a century.  This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. For example, in June 2014 an investigation by the North Central Iowa Narcotics Task Force revealed a prostitution ring working in the area. Two Mason City women were charged with prostitution and with aiding and abetting prostitution, both aggravated misdemeanors punishable by up to 2 years in prison and fine up to $6,250. According to the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Office, this activity has been going on in the area for some time with the case still under investigation. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, Iowa State Patrol and the Mason City Police Department assisted the North Central Iowa Narcotics Task Force.

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. For example, in May, 2019, a prostitution sting in Clear Lake on Wednesday resulted in the arrest of seven male sex buyers and two women accused of prostitution.  The identities of all arrested persons were included in press releases.  The Clear Lake Police Department was assisted by the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Office, the Division of Criminal Investigation, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, the Mason City Police Department, and the North Central Iowa Drug Task Force.

Sex buyer arrests have occurred in the city as the result of allegations of crimes against real victims, and not only through reverse stings using police decoys. For example, in 2021, a Clear Lake man was arrested and charged with soliciting and purchasing sexual abuse of an underage Fort Dodge teen. The 56 year old man was accused of paying for a sex act with a girl who was 17 years old at the time.  According to the criminal complaint, the act occurred in January, 2021 in Clear Lake. The man was charged with felony prostitution, a Class B felony. The man’s identity was included in news reports.

Key Partners

  • Clear Lake Police Department
  • Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Office
  • Division of Criminal Investigation
  • Hancock County Sheriff’s Office
  • Mason City Police Department
  • North Central Iowa Drug Task Force
State Iowa
Type City
Population 7594
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