Eureka, CA

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

Eureka is located on the Pacific coast in northern California.  It is the largest city in the state north of San Francisco, with a population of approximately 26,500.  The historic Old Town is the most notorious area for prostitution in Eureka, and has been the setting for the majority of the Eureka Police Department’s prostitution stings.  Prostitution in Eureka has been linked to heavy drug use – mostly heroine and amphetamines. Other crimes associated with the local commercial sex market include violent crimes, such as the rape, assault, and robbery of prostituted women.  The city has also had cases of the murder of prostituted women, including the activity of at least one serial killer who specifically targeted women serving as prostitutes.

Complaints from residents and businesses play a large role in police prostitution operations.  Most of the stings conducted have been of the older model, focusing more on the exploited women than the sex buyers who purchase them. Buyers have been more often picked up during general sweeps of areas known for prostitution and drugs.  Most of the stings are at the street-level, but in 2005, when prostitution began shifting online, Eureka police added web-based operations as well. A decoy was used in reverse stings in 2005 who was not a police officer.   A 2012 operations involved both a sting focusing on prostituted women, and a reverse sting targeting sex buyers.  If convicted of soliciting prostitution, a misdemeanor, the penalty is a fine of $1000 and up to six months in jail.  Those convicted are required to take an HIV test, and if they are found to be positive, and are arrested again for solicitation, they will be charged with a felony.

Key Partners

  • Eureka Police Department
  • Humboldt County Drug Task Force

Key Sources

National Assessment survey

Reverse Stings, Identitty Disclosure:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Prostitution-Related Violence:

State California
Type City
Population 26489
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