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.
- Des Moines Police Department
- Mid-Iowa Narcotics Enforcement Task Force
- Polk County Sheriff’s Office
- Street-Level Reverse Stings:
- “College Leader, Minister Netted by Decoy Prostitute,” Nashua Telegraph, September 14 1978.
- “Crackdown on Prostitution; Iowa Official among 9 Men Decoyed,” Palm Beach Post, September 14 1978.
- “Prostitution Net Catches 2 Officials,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, September 14 1978.
- “Police Decoys Catch Prostitutes,” Spencer Daily Reporter, July 20 1984.
- “Decoy Walks, Sex Seekers Nabbed,” Des Moines Register, October 21 2000.
- “52 Men Are Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” Des Moines Register, March 23 2001.
- “Police Arrest 22 Men in Prostitution Sting; Informants Were Offered from $5 to $50 to Perform Sex Acts,” Des Moines Register, June 25 2001.
- “More Arrests as Prostitution Stings Continue,” Des Moines Register, August 20 2015.
- “Councilman to Resign amid Prostitution Sting,” Des Moines Register, August 21 2015.
- “Editorial: Prostitution Sting Left out Key Fact: Location,” Des Moines Register, August 28 2015.
- “Four Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” Des Moines Register, March 11 2016.
- Web-Based Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- Auto Seizure:
- “D.M. Police Take Car Used to Pick up Prostitute,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, January 15 1993.
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Former UNI Instructor Pleads Guilty to Prostitution Charges,” Spencer Daily Reporter, September 2 1993.
- “Des Moines Police Find Missing Teen during Prostitution Sting,” Des Moines Register, July 17 2012.
- https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdia/pr/nine-defendants-sentenced-federal-prison-sex-trafficking (2021)
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Hookers Moving to Des Moines,” Spencer Daily Reporter, May 27 1982.
- “Des Moines Police Use Backpage.com in Prostitution Investigation,” Des Moines Register, August 11 2009.
- “Des Moines Police Arrest 3 in Online Prostitution Sting,” Des Moines Register, September 10 2010.
- “Des Moines Police Arrest Leader of Prostitution Ring,” Des Moines Register, June 26 2012.
- http://www.wgem.com/des-moines-area-drug-prostitution-arrests-occur (2012)
- http://wcfcourier.com/news/local/des-moines-area-drug-prostitution-arrests-occur (2012)