Des Moines, IA

Tactics Used

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

Des Moines is the state capital city located in central Iowa.  It also serves as the government seat of Polk County, and has a population of about 200,000. Prostitution has been identified as a problem in the city and has been linked to sex trafficking and drug trafficking activity. HIV-positive persons continuing to engage in prostitution have also been documented.

The Des Moines Police Department conducts web-based and street-level reverse stings at local motels, homes, and streets using undercover female police officers or police informants. Details about the men arrested are often disclosed to the public, and records of the arrests are posted in court documents.

In the early 1990s, media outlets reported that an unnamed Des Moines neighborhood association had sent letters to the homes of men seen loitering in high-stroll areas, though details of how suspected sex buyers were identified and later contacted by residents were not disclosed. It is unclear if the tactic remains in use.

Key Partners

  • Des Moines Police Department
  • Mid-Iowa Narcotics Enforcement Task Force
  • Polk County Sheriff’s Office

Key Sources

State Iowa
Type City
Population 196998
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