El Paso 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

El Paso County, Colorado has a population of approximately 738,000 residents, and is located south of Denver along Interstate 25. Its population center is the city of Colorado Springs. Prostitution and sex trafficking are well documented in incorporated and unincorporated areas of the county. Additionally, there have been cases of targeted homicide against prostituted people. Among the more serious crimes associated with the county’s commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. For example, in December 2012, the Colorado Attorney General’s Office announced the arrests of twelve people involved in a statewide child sex trafficking ring. According to reports, some of the offenders had posted ads online of juvenile girls on Backpage.com, a website known for sex trafficking and prostitution, and some had attempted to sexually exploit the girls in exchange for money online. Eight offenders were arrested on charges related to participating in a criminal enterprise that exploited juveniles through human trafficking and sex trafficking/pimping-related activities. The other four offenders were arrested on charges including soliciting for “child prostitution” and “patronizing a prostituted child” (more accurately described as the paid sexual assault of children).

To curtail prostitution activity in the county, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, often in collaboration with other local, state, and federal agencies, has conducted periodic street-level reverse stings since at least 1979, if not earlier. For example, in the summer of 1980, the Colorado Springs Police Department began targeting male sex buyers as form of reducing the demand for commercial sex in the city that resulted in the arrest of over 170 male sex buyers on charges of soliciting prostitution. In the early 1990s, the CSPD conducted a series of large-scale operations targeting sex buyers. The operations, which employed undercover female officers as decoys, resulted in the arrests of dozens of male sex buyers.

In July 1994, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported that city law enforcement routinely faxed the names of all arrested sex buyers to the press, but their inclusion was at the discretion of local media outlets. It is unclear if the limited publication of arrestees’ names and identities continues to be largely a press choice. However, in the spring of 2015, Colorado Springs police announced they would begin posting the identities of arrested sex buyers to the department’s Facebook page. The identities of six sex buyers were posted to the site in early April 2015; another four convicted men’s identities and arrest photos were publicized in February 2016.

In more recent years, law enforcement agencies have diversified their efforts to include stings that target men attempting solicit sex online. In particular, officers have targeted men attempting to sexually exploit minors online in exchange for money. Web-based reverse sting operations have been conducted since at least 2002, if not earlier. Undercover officers have posed as both underage decoys and sex traffickers, advertising sex with a minor on websites known for prostitution and sex trafficking. As web solicitation often crosses city and county lines, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office has frequently engaged the support of the Colorado Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The CSPD has similarly collaborated with the Task Force on several investigations into domestic minor sex trafficking in the area. For example, in 2020, the EPCSO arrested a 34-year-old man on sexual exploitation of a child charges. According to reports, the investigation into the man was initiated after the EPCSO received information from the Colorado ICAC Task Force. After serving search warrants and conducting interviews, probable cause was established for a suspect’s arrest. The offender was arrested and booked in the El Paso County Jail. In addition to arrest, the offender was placed on administrative leave from his position at the Colorado Department of Corrections. The offender’s identity and image were released by the EPCSO.

In February, 2021, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office participated in an additional reverse sting operation that resulted in the arrest of six male sex buyers. The operation was conducted in Colorado Springs and was focused on apprehending individuals seeking to sexually exploit minors online in exchange for money. Photos and others identifiers for the arrested sex buyers were released to news outlets. In addition to the EPCSO, participating agencies included the Colorado State Patrol (Smuggling, Trafficking, and Interdiction Section), the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the Colorado Springs Police Department, the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In September, 2022, two El Paso County men were arrested after they attempted to pay an undercover El Paso County detective to engage in sexual abuse of a 14-year-old girl, according to arrest affidavits obtained by The Gazette. Both men made contact with the undercover El Paso County Sheriff’s Office detective on a website where individuals can connect to pay for sexual acts.  The investigation was a joint effort between the Colorado Springs Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office to target “individuals attempting to pay money to have sex with children,” according to the affidavit.

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings:

Sex Buyer Arrest:

Employment Loss, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Local Prostitution Ordinances, Court Orders:

State Colorado
Type County
Population 737857
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