Dawson County, MT

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Dawson County, Montana, is located on the state’s eastern border with North Dakota, and has a population of roughly 9,000. The county seat is Glendive, a city of about 5,000 residents. Prostitution activity has been well-documented throughout the county, and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market are sex trafficking, child endangerment, and violence committed against people involved in these transactions.

Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies in their strategy for prevention and response. State law enforcement chose the area to stage a web-based reverse sting to apprehend adults trying purchase sex from minors. In October 2014, the Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation, with the support of the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office, Glendive Police Department, and several other law enforcement agencies, placed decoy advertisements offering prostitution to a local website known for commercial sex. When johns responded to the listing, undercover DCI agents informed the men that the “prostitutes” they were offering were 13 and 15 years old. Two of the men then arranged to meet to what they thought were underage girls being trafficked in Glendive. When they arrived, they were arrested by police. Both of the men’s names, ages and hometowns were released to the public. Neither sex buyer was from the immediate vicinity– one traveled from Glasgow (over two hours away), and the other from Watford City, North Dakota (just under two hours’ drive). According to media reports, each was charged with “one count of sexual abuse of children.” Both were bound over from justice court to Dawson County District Court, and held at the Dawson County Correctional Facility. Assisting in this undercover operation were the Billings Police Department, the Flathead, and Blaine County Sheriff’s Offices, Montana’s Internet Crimes against Children task force, the Montana Gambling Control Division, North Dakota’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security.

Key Partners

  • Dawson County Sheriff’s Office
  • Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation
  • Glendive Police Department
  • Dawson County District Court
  • Billings Police Department
  • Flathead County Sheriff’s Office
  • Blaine County Sheriff’s Office
  • Montana’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
  • Montana Gambling Control Division
  • North Dakota’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation
  • FBI
  • Department of Homeland Security
State Montana
Type County
Population 8950
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