Fairbanks is a home rule city and the borough seat of the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Fairbanks is the largest and coldest city in the Interior region of Alaska and the second largest city  in the state with a population of approximately 31,500 residents. Reports of commercial sex have been well-documented for over a century. This is largely due to the Gold Rush in the 1890’s and the construction of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline in the 1970’s. The demand for commercial sex led to the creation of a red-light district known as “The Line” where prostitution was permitted to exist until 1952. More recently, the city and surrounding communities experience substantial issues concerning the increase in the local prostitution and sex trafficking activity.

To address the consumer demand driving the commercial sex market, reverse sting operations have been conducted. For example, in October 2014, an investigation of an Anchorage-based prostitution operation led to misdemeanor charges against seven sex buyers in Fairbanks. In addition, the Alaska State Troopers seized terabytes of information, including email records, from an additional offender, a female Anchorage resident. According to the charges, the woman was accused of organizing 32 independent contractors who had contact information of roughly 800 prostituted people. A grand jury indicted the defendant on four felony sex trafficking charges. The seven male sex buyers were charged with prostitution, a “class B” misdemeanor in the state of Alaska. In Alaska, a prostitution offense is filed under the same charge for both prostituted people and sex buyers. The charging documents listed some of the men as Fairbanks residents and others as residents of Ohio, Montana, Kansas, and Anchorage. They were accused of soliciting the business while they were in Fairbanks.

In January 2022, the Alaska State Troopers Special Crimes Investigation Unit (SCIU) conducted multiple “prostitution patron stings” in Fairbanks and Anchorage, resulting in charges against 22 men who attempted to solicit sex from undercover female officers who posed as prostituted women. All 22 men contacted during the operation were charged with the Class B Misdemeanor of Prostitution. The identities of the arrested sex buyers were publicly disclosed. Alaska law prohibits payment for sexual conduct under AS 11.66.100(a)(2). In a press release about the operation, the Director of the Alaska State Troopers said,

Prostitution is not a victimless crime, and is often financially intertwined with sex trafficking, drug trafficking, violent crimes, and sexual assault. Your Alaska State Troopers are committed to investigating and working with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable anyone who victimizes Alaskans. The Alaska State Troopers are planning additional operations in the future to help reduce demand for these illicit services across the state.

Sex buyers in Fairbanks have also been arrested as the result of investigating resident complaints to local law enforcement. For example, in 1991, a 45-year-old Fairbanks man was arrested after he had attempted to solicit women for sex over the phone. According to reports, the man had posted an ad in the local newspaper for a bookkeeper and would attempt to solicit women for sex who responded to the ad. The man was arrested by officials on two charges of soliciting prostitution and one charge of telephone harassment. The sex buyer’s identity was included in reports by local media outlets.