Colorado Springs, CO

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

Colorado Springs is a city of approximately 484,000 residents, located south of Denver along Interstate 25 in El Paso County, CO. Prostitution and sex trafficking are well-documented issues in the city. For example, between January 2014 and August 2014, researchers identified and recovered 25 underage victims of commercial sexual exploitation and 34 adult victims in Colorado Springs. Local cases of prostitution and sex trafficking-related child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often referred to in criminal codes as “child prostitution”) have also occurred.  For example, in May 2018, a Colorado Springs man was sentenced to 10 years in prison after Homeland Security Investigations agents found 700,000 CSAM images including pictures depicting sadomasochistic sexual abuse of preteen children. Prior to his arrest in March 2017, HSI agents had been investigating a man and his wife, plus other co-conspirators in a human trafficking network. They were bringing Asian females to the U.S. and forcing them into prostitution. They charged the women $200 for transportation from Denver International Airport and then drove them to massage parlors where they were sex trafficked.  During a search of the pair’s home they discovered a computer and external hard drives containing hundreds of thousands of files containing CSAM in folders called “hardcore childporn” and “kinderporn.” They were originally charged with multiple counts of trafficking adults in the sex trade. In a plea deal with the El Paso County District Attorney’s office, each of them pleaded guilty to one count of pimping and was sentenced to four years probation. Many of the CSAM images were produced in foreign countries. Investigators also found hundreds of pages of text stories describing abductions and rape of children. In one series of photographs a prepubescent girl was tied up.

In July 2020, a man a Colorado Springs man was arrested for human trafficking on charges of human trafficking, sexual assault, and false imprisonment. An arrest affidavit accused him  of raping women and forcing them into prostitution over the prior seven months. Three female victims, including a teenage runaway, identified the man who held them against their will while forcing them to have sex with as many as a dozen different men per day. In addition to sex trafficking and related abuses, multiple cases of targeted homicide against prostituted people in the city have also been documented.

To curtail prostitution and sex trafficking activity in the city, as well as the wide range of additional felonies always surrounding prostitution markets, Colorado Springs police have conducted periodic street-level reverse stings since at least 1979, if not earlier. For example, in the summer of 1980, the Colorado Springs Police Department began targeting male sex buyers as form of reducing the demand for commercial sex in the city that resulted in the arrest of over 170 male sex buyers on charges of soliciting prostitution. In the early 1990s, the CSPD conducted a series of large-scale operations targeting sex buyers. The operations, which employed undercover female officers as decoys, resulted in the arrests of dozens of male sex buyers.

In July 1994, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported that city law enforcement routinely faxed the names of all arrested sex buyers to the press, but their inclusion was at the discretion of local media outlets. It is unclear if the limited publication of arrestees’ names and identities continues to be largely a press choice. However, in the spring of 2015, Colorado Springs police announced they would begin posting the identities of arrested sex buyers to the department’s Facebook page. The identities of six sex buyers were posted to the site in early April 2015; another four convicted men’s identities and arrest photos were publicized in February 2016.

The CSPD has also diversified its efforts to include stings that target men attempting solicit sex online. In particular, officers have targeted men attempting to sexually exploit minors in exchange for money. Web-based reverse sting operations have been conducted since at least 2002, if not earlier. Undercover officers have posed as both underage decoys and sex traffickers/pimps, advertising sex with a minor on websites known for prostitution and sex trafficking. As web solicitation often crosses city and county lines, the CSPD has frequently engaged the support of the Colorado Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The CSPD has similarly collaborated with the Task Force on several investigations into domestic minor sex trafficking in the area. For example, in 2021, the CSPD and the Colorado ICAC Task Force collaborated in the arrest of a local PE teacher who had allegedly attempted to solicit sex from a minor online. According to reports, during a web-based reverse sting operation by the Durango Police Department, officials identified a man suspected of soliciting sex from a minor online. Through the investigation, police learned that the offender lived in Colorado Springs. At that point, the Durango Police Department requested the help of the Colorado Springs ICAC Task Force to continue their investigation. Search and arrest warrants were then issued for the former PE teacher. Due to his arrest, the offender was placed on administrative leave at Monterey Elementary School.

In addition, the CSPD has conducted web-based reverse stings without the collaboration of the Colorado ICAC Task Force. For example, in October 2020, the CSPD conducted a web-based operation focused on apprehending individuals seeking to sexually exploit minors in exchange for money online that resulted in the arrest of eight men on charges of soliciting for child prostitution.

IT-Based Tactics

IT-based tactics have been incorporated into the multi-site demand reduction operations coordinated by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. Since 2011, the Cook County (IL) Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) has been coordinating periodic reverse sting operations occurring simultaneously in multiple cities throughout the United States. The collaborative effort was initially called the “National Day of John Arrests,” and then in 2015 was renamed National Johns Suppression Initiative (NJSI). The coalition of agencies that participate in these coordinated enforcement efforts grew from eight to more than 100. The 19 NJSI operations from 2011 through 2021 have involved the collaboration of over 140 law enforcement agencies, and have collectively produced the arrests of more than 10,000 sex buyers. Since August 2018, some of the NJSI operations have incorporated the use of decoy internet ads that connected to an AI bot, created by The bot interacts with sex buyers to the point where it sends a deterrence message warning of the legal and social dangers of prostitution and sex trafficking.

Initially, the Cook County Sheriff’s Police and eight other agencies utilized the bot, including the principle police departments and sheriff’s offices in Boston, MA; Des Moines, WA; McHenry County, IL; New York, NY; Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; Tarrant County, TX; and Upper Merion Township, PA. Across several subsequent NJSI operations, 18 cities and counties used the bots to combat demand.

The childsafe bot and other similar products can continuously scrape data or monitor “signal” from open source electronic communications, analyze the raw input, and flag messages as probably depicting a commercial sex offer or transaction. They also engage buyers in some form of interaction designed to deter individuals from attempting to purchase sex, at the present “point of purchase” moment as well as in the future. This approach seeks to disrupt (and ultimately collapse) commercial sex markets by reducing demand.

Employment Loss, Sex Buyer Arrests

Loss of employment is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred in the city. For example, in November 2006, an evangelical preacher and founder of a church in Colorado Springs resigned or was removed from his leadership positions at his church and national organizations after he admitted he had solicited a prostituted person for sex and methamphetamine. In November 2014, a top U.S. Air Force Academy official resigned after being arrested in a prostitution sting. He resigned his position as head of the academy athletic department’s fundraising arm (the Air Force Academy Athletic Corp, a nonprofit controlled by a board of directors that includes Air Force and civilian officials).

Some arrests of sex buyers are the result of investigating allegations of crimes against real victims, rather than from reverse stings using police decoys. For example, in June 2022, five people were charged in Colorado Springs after police received a tip that a 15-year-old girl was being sex trafficked. Police said the Metro Vice Unit received the tip in February 2022 and conducted multiple investigations to provide enough evidence to believe a teen girl was being trafficked. One of the arrested men was charged with Attempted Patronizing a Prostituted Child (Class 4 Felony), Sexual Exploitation of a Child (Class 5 Felony), and Soliciting for Prostitution.

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Identity Disclosure:

IT-Based Tactics:

Loss of Employment, Sex Buyer Arrest:

Local Sex Trafficking, Child Sexual Exploitation, Related CSAM:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Local Prostitution Ordinances:

State Colorado
Type City
Population 483486
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