De Soto, KS

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

De Soto is a town of around 6,000 residents, situated along the Kansas river roughly equidistant between Lawrence and Overland Park in Johnson County, Kansas. It is part of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of Johnson County. This activity 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 is sex trafficking.

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. The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office has conducted reverse stings in De Soto since at least 2010. In December 2010, JCSO deputies, in partnership with officers from the Shawnee, Merriam, Overland Park, and Prairie Village police departments, launched a web sting that resulted in the arrest of 29 sex buyers in the communities of De Soto, Merriam, and Shawnee. At the time, the Lawrence Journal-World reported that nine sex buyers had been intercepted in De Soto, as well as two women charged with “promoting prostitution.” The individuals’ identities were not publicized.

Men arrested for buying sex in De Soto have – when eligible – attended the john school program in Kansas City, MO run by Veronica’s Voice. Between 2008 and 2014, Merriam sent 29 men to the Johnz School program.

In July 2018, the Kansas Attorney General announced a new awareness campaign in Kansas aimed at cutting the demand for prostitution as a way to fight human trafficking. The campaign involved state agencies and local advocacy groups teaming up to push the “Demand an End” initiative, which featured education and announcements warning people that sex buyers would face charges. The campaign intended to promote a culture in which buying sex is not acceptable. It was based on the assumption that the money from sex buyers fueled the marketplace that enabled sex trafficking.

Key Partners

  • Johnson County Sheriff’s Office
  • Shawnee Police Department
  • Merriam Police Department
  • Prairie Village Police Department
  • Overland Park Police Department
  • Veronica’s Voice
State Kansas
Type City
Population 6380
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