Dubuque County, IA

Tactics Used

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

Dubuque County is a county located in the U.S. state of Iowa. The population is about 97,000. The county seat is Dubuque.  Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the communities and unincorporated areas of the county.  This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results 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 Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department has collaborated with local and regional agencies to address demand.  For example, reverse stings have been occurring in the city of Dubuque since at least 1983 in response to area business owners complaints that prostitution was hurting their businesses. The local commercial sex market has also supported documented cases of child prostitution, and at least one prostituted woman has been murdered in the city. The punishments imposed for men arrested in this city can range from fines and probation to a “two year prison term and/or a $5,000 fine.” Another consequence that arrested johns may face is having their names offered by police to media outlets.


Key Partners

  • Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department
  • Dubuque Police Department
  • Dubuque Drug Task Force

Key Sources

Reverse Stings and Shaming:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Prostitution-related violence:

State Iowa
Type County
Population 97041
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