Duluth, MN

Tactics Used

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

Duluth is a city of about 86,000 residents located in northeastern Minnesota, on the shore of Lake Superior.  Documented cases of prostitution and sex trafficking have occurred in the city, with Native American women and girls reported to be particularly vulnerable.  To address these problems, law enforcement have incorporated tactics that address underlying demand.

Street-level reverse stings have been used by the Duluth Police Department since 1999, initially in response to complaints from area residents and business owners.  In a set of operations in 2003, 25 johns were arrested.  In an effort to increase the focus on human trafficking, other tactics have been introduced beginning in 2009, such as auto seizure and web-based reverse stings.

In November 2013, an effort to combat prostitution and sex trafficking included both stings and reverse stings.  In the first operation in November, police responded to online ads for sex, arrested the prostituted women, and then “flipped” the operation by fielding the incoming phone calls from four johns and arresting them when they appeared at the hotel and offered to buy sex.  In a subsequent reversal, police posted a bogus ad and then arrested four more johns who appeared and tried to buy sex from a police decoy.


Key Partners

  • Duluth Police Department
  • Superior Police Department
  • Douglas County Sheriff’s Office
  • Lake Superior Drug and Gang Task Force

Key Sources

State Minnesota
Type City
Population 84397
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