Gallatin County, MT
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Gallatin County is in Southern Montana, and with a population of roughly 111,000 residents, it’s the third-most populous county in Montana. Its county seat and largest city is Bozeman, MT. Prostitution and sex trafficking—including through illicit massage parlors—have been documented throughout the county. Additionally, violence had occurred during commercial sex investigations. For example, in 1971, three Gallatin County Sheriff’s deputies were held at gun point by sex traffickers/pimps during an undercover prostitution investigation at a local bar.
Local businesses and residents have complained about prostitution, and the community plays a role in law enforcement deciding to conduct operations. Among the more serious issues surrounding the area’s commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. For example, in 2017, a 22-year-old Bozeman man was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after he plead guilty to sex trafficking two teenage girls in Missoula, MT. Due to the recent increase in residential complaints regarding suspected sex trafficking in the county, an effort to raise community awareness by the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) was implemented. In addition, the county has formed the Gallatin County Human Trafficking Task Force that consists of officials from the GCSO and other local law enforcement agencies to serve as the county’s first line of defense for sex trafficking cases.
In an effort to reduce prostitution in the city, local law enforcement has conducted at least one reverse sting operation. For example, in August 2018, the GCSO, Bozeman Police Department, and Homeland Security Investigation conducted a web-based reverse sting that targeted individuals seeking to purchase commercial sex in the county. As a result of the investigation, seven male sex buyers were arrested. The decoy advertisements posted received over 50 inquiries for various sexual acts and on the day of the operation, numerous meetings were scheduled. The identities of the arrested male sex buyers were included in press releases.
- Bozeman Police Department
- Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office
- Gallatin County Human Trafficking Task Force
- Homeland Security Investigations
- The HEART Initiative
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- http://www.kpax.com/7-arrested-in-gallatin-co-for-prostitution-in-human-trafficking-operation (2018)
- http://www.kulr8.com/gallatin-county-arrests-seven-people-in-undercover-prostitution-sting (2018)
- https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/seven-accused-johns-arrested-in-gallatin-county-prostitution-sting (2018)
- Montana high court: Citizens can’t expect privacy when texting undercover cops (2021)
- https://www.krtv.com/1-of-the-7-people-charged-in-bozeman-prostitution-sting-pleads-guilty/ (2018)
- https://www.kbzk.com/gallatin-county-human-trafficking-task-force-awareness-growing-issue (2021)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- Deputies find prostitute-chasing a dangerous chore (1971)
- https://www.facebook.com/pkbozeman post
- https://www.economist.com/0working-girls (2008)
- https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/colorful-madams (2011)
- https://billingsgazette.com/sentencing-looms-in-bozeman-sex-case (2009)
- https://nbcmontana.com/woman-arrested-for-prostitution-in-bozeman (2013)
- https://nbcmontana.com/bozeman-police-credit-diligent-citizen-for-prostitution-bust (2013)
- https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/three-women-arrested-in-belgrade-prostitution-sting (2013)
- http://www.abcfoxmontana.com/the-difficulty-of-prosecuting-prostitution-cases (2016)
- https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/man-pleads-to-promoting-prostitution-in-three-forks (2017)
- https://www.greatfallstribune.com/prostitution-gambling-widespread-throughout Montana (2018)
- https://www.missoulacurrent.com/sex-trafficking-montana/ (2019)
- https://www.victoriaadvocate.com/human-trafficking-in-montana/video (2023)
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