Douglas County, CO

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

Douglas County is a county of approximately 369,000 residents located in Colorado. Its government seat is Castle Rock, CO. Douglas County is part of the DenverAuroraLakewood, Colorado, metropolitan statistical area. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the county for decades. This activity and its ancillary crimes have generated complaints from residents and businesses to local law enforcement agencies. Among the more serious issues associated with the county’s commercial sex market is child sex trafficking.

To combat prostitution and sex trafficking in the area, local law enforcement agencies have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex, which provides the revenue stream driving all prostitution and sex trafficking. Among their attempts to contain the commercial sex market, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has conducted multiple web-based reverse sting operations, targeting individuals seeking to purchase commercial sex online. The DCSO often collaborates with other local, state, and federal agencies to conduct these operations. For example, in 2014, the DCSO participated in the FBI’s annual operation, Operation Cross Country VII, focused on targeting child sex trafficking across the nation. As a result of the multi-agency operation, 18 juvenile victims were identified, 11 sex traffickers/pimps were arrested, and 68 male sex buyers were arrested. The investigation was carried out as both a street-level and web-based reverse sting operation.

In the spring of 2015, the deputies from the DCSO with assistance from the Parker Police Department, launched a web-based reverse sting targeting adults attempting to solicit minors for sex online called Operation Broken Heart II. The officials posted decoy listings to websites known for commercial sex, posing as minors, and communicated with potential sex buyers online. As a result of the investigation, nine men were arrested, six of which were charged with solicitation of “child prostitution” (i.e., child sex trafficking). All of the men’s names, ages, hometowns, and mugshots were disclosed by local media outlets. In early July 2015, members of the press reported that at least one of the men arrested during the operation had the charges against him dismissed.

In April 2016, a federal web-based reverse sting operation focused on targeting the demand for prostitution and sex trafficking during World Cannabis Week in Colorado, resulted in the recovery of five child sex trafficking victims, the arrest of nine sex traffickers/pimps, and the arrest of 26 adults on prostitution-related charges. The investigation consisted of numerous sex trafficking operations being conducted across the Denver Metro area and along the Front Range during the week of April 18 due to the influx of tourists that the state experiences during large-scale events which has also demonstrated an increase in demand for commercial sex during these events. According to research conducted by FBI personnel, before and after World Cannabis Week in 2015, researchers noted a 35 percent increase in the number of online escort postings, in addition to nearly 40 percent of escorts reportedly traveled to Colorado for the event. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office was amongst the 20 local, state, and federal agencies that participated in the investigation. One of the recovered minors, a 15-year-old victim, had been transported to Colorado from California by traffickers specifically for “420 Week.” Law enforcement arrested nine alleged traffickers on numerous felonies, including human trafficking for sexual servitude. Police also arrested an alleged pedophile who made arrangements with an undercover officer to sexually abuse a 7-year-old in exchange for money. Police released the identities and images of a few men arrested on sex trafficking charges.

In 2019, the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the recovery or identification of 103 child victims and the arrest of 67 sex traffickers nationally through Operation Independence Day (OID). This initiative, a revamping of the previously successful program Operation Cross Country (OCC), was executed during the month of July and culminated in 161 operations conducted nationwide. In Denver, the FBI and its law enforcement partners recovered and identified four child victims, eight adult victims, and arrested one sex trafficker. Additional sex traffickers have been identified and investigations are ongoing. Locally the FBI Denver Division worked alongside investigators from the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s OfficeDouglas County Sheriff’s OfficeColorado State PatrolAurora Police DepartmentDenver Police Department, and Cheyenne, Wyoming Police Department to conduct the web-based operation.

Sex buyers and sex traffickers have also been arrested as the result of alternative investigations that are often initiated from residential reports to local law enforcement. For example, in October 2006, a Parker resident was arrested and charged with one count each of engaging in child prostitution and sexual assault on a person with a 10-year age difference after he had allegedly contacted a 16-year-old female through a Denver-based escort service that was listed on Craigslist. The two were arrested by Denver Police during a sting operation in October of 2006. In 2009, more than two years after his arrest and after a four day trial, he was convicted of patronizing an underage prostitute. During the course of the man’s trial, the offender’s attorney was also arrested for allegedly attempting to intimidate the underage female victim. The case was investigated by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, acting on a tip from Denver Police Department officers. The sex buyer was sentenced to 30 days in jail and required to register as a sex offender; his identity was publicized in press.

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:

Local Ordinances:

State Colorado
Type County
Population 368990
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