Espanola, NM

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

Espanola is a city of about 10,500 residents in Northern New Mexico, near Santa Fe, NM, and is located primarily in Rio Arriba County, NM however, a portion of the city lies in Santa Fe County. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates, has resulted in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market are sex trafficking and violence committed against people involved in these transactions. According to Street Safe New Mexico, a local group helping women living on the streets, sex trafficking is rampant throughout the state, and the local ranch of billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein has been mentioned by accusers as a site of suspected sex trafficking within Santa Fe County.

Prior to a prostitution sting in October 2013, Espanola Police Department detectives started gathering intelligence and tips from the community that prostituted women were targeting elderly men. A report on the operation quoted Española Police Chief Eric Garcia stating the next prostitution sting would target the sex buyers, who are creating the demand for the supply of sexual services. “It’s not allowable,” Garcia said. “It’s an arrestable offense. If they don’t want to embarrass their families, just don’t do it.” He advised the potential sex buyers to be cautious because the Española Police Department is going to target them next. However, since the 2013 article, no reports of a reverse sting being conducted in the city have been documented.

In effort to reduce commercial sex in the city have included demand-reduction tactics such as employment loss and identity disclosure. For example, in 2016, a 21-year-old officer in training with the Espanola Police Department was arrested in by Albuquerque police in a routine traffic stop. According to reports, the officer in training had picked up a prostituted woman and the two were driving to a motel for commercial sex when police stopped the car. Detectives stated that the sex buyer had $30 of cash in his hand at the time of the stop, the exact amount that the prostituted woman said the two had agreed upon. The sex buyer was arrested on the charge of patronizing a prostitute and the prostituted woman was arrested for prostitution. As a result of his arrest, he was placed on unpaid leave pending the results of the investigation. However, a month later he was terminated from the training academy after failing to appear for a pre-assessment police academy test. The charges against the sex buyer were eventually dropped after the arresting officers failed to appear in court. The sex buyer’s identity and image were included in reports by local media outlets.

Key Sources

Employment Loss, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:

Background on Sex Trafficking, Child Sex Trafficking, and Child Sexual Exploitation:

State New Mexico
Type City
Population 10514
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