Flagstaff, AZ

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

Flagstaff is a city with a population of approximately 74,000 residents, located in northern Arizona. It is the largest city and county seat of Coconino County, AZ. Problems associated with prostitution and sex trafficking are well-documented in the city, and throughout Coconino County and the neighboring Yavapai County region. Additional crimes occurring within prostitution events, such as illicit drug offenses, have also been well documented locally. Flagstaff Initiative Against Trafficking (FIAT) is a program housed by Northland Family Help Center. It was created in August 2017 to pursue the objectives of deterring people from purchasing sex and providing resources for trafficking victims and survivors. In its first year, FIAT identified at least 63 adults and 32 youth in the Flagstaff community who had experienced trafficking.

Among the approaches used to address such problems have been the implementation of demand reduction tactics. Many of the operations have been regional in nature, including Flagstaff police but also collaboration with the Coconino and Yavapai County Sheriff’s Offices, the Prescott Police Department, the Sedona Police Department, and the FBI. For example, in March 2018, a multi-agency prostitution sting in Flagstaff resulted in the arrests of men who were charged with child prostitution. The Flagstaff Police Department, along with investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and Prescott Valley Police Department, made eight arrests during the one-day undercover investigation. The investigation focused on people paying to sexually abuse minors, under the age of 16. Police noted that they took over 100 calls from would-be suspects, most of whom declined when they learned the age of the girls involved. No actual children were a part of the sting. According to Flagstaff Police, most of the men allegedly acknowledged that they were told over the phone by the “girl” they were coming to meet that she was 16 before they arrived at the hotel room used for the sting. A news report in January 2019, stated that during 2018, more than 600 individuals in the area had responded to decoy ads placed by police and/or attempted to purchase sex with a minor during several sting operations conducted by law enforcement agencies. The arrests stretched from Camp Verde to Flagstaff. A man arrested in Flagstaff, who was also a registered sex offender in Coconino County, had allegedly arranged to sexually abuse underage girls in exchange for money, but didn’t follow through. The identities of the arrested offenders were publicly disclosed.

A local law enforcement respondent to the 2022 National Assessment Survey reported that employment loss for arrested sex buyers has occurred within the city at least once since 2019. The respondent also said that city police have used males as decoy prostituted persons and arrested female sex buyers at least once.

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Prostitution, Sex Trafficking, Related Crime in the Area:

State Arizona
Type City
Population 73319
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