Dawson County, MT

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

Dawson County has approximately 9,000 residents and is located along Montana’s eastern border with North Dakota. Its largest city and county seat is Glendive, MT. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity has been well-documented in the county for decades. This activity and its ancillary crimes has resulted in complaints to local law enforcement from residents and businesses. For example, in 1985, a residential complaint led to the arrested of a prostituted woman. According to reports, a man reported the woman to police after she allegedly approached him at a bar in downtown Glendive. Police reported that this was the first prostitution arrest in the city in several years. More recently, the county has experienced issues surrounding child sex trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children.

Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement in their strategy for prevention and response. For example, in October 2014, a web-based reverse sting was conducted in Dawson County to target adults attempting to sexually exploit minors in exchange for money. Officers placed decoy advertisements on a website known for commercial sex. Two men arranged to sexually exploit with what they thought were 13- and 15-year-old minors in exchange for money, in Glendive. When they arrived to the predetermined location, the offenders 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, MT and the other from Watford City, ND. 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. This operation was led by the Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation, with the support of the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office and Glendive Police Department. The Billings Police Department, the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office, 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 also assisted.

Sex buyers have not only been arrested through reverse sting operations but additionally have been arrested as a result of investigations of allegations of crimes against real victims, and residential complaints to local law enforcement. For example, in 2016, a Dawson County man was arrested on a felony soliciting prostitution charge and was booked in the Dawson County Jail on a bond of $5,000. The sex buyer’s identity, image, charges, and bond were included in the DCSO’s inmate roster and related arrest records.

Key Partners

State Montana
Type County
Population 8904
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