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Garfield County is a county with a population of about 62,000 residents in the state of Colorado. Its county seat is Glenwood Springs. The westernmost border of the county aligns with Utah and the area is known for an assortment of parks and national forests. To the north of Garfield is Rio Blanco County, and Eagle County is situated to the east. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented within the county’s incorporated and unincorporated areas. For example, although none exist today, many cities within the county were known for having red-light districts. Among the more serious issues associated with the area’s commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. For example, in 2018, a Colorado grand jury indicted two individuals, a man and woman, for allegedly transporting two juveniles in July 2017 to a hotel in Glenwood Springs and exploiting the children sexually for money. According to reports, the offenders posted ads of the juveniles on websites known for commercial sex, and provided hotel rooms where respondents would meet and sexually abuse the victims in exchange for money. The female offender was charged with 10 felony counts, including trafficking a minor for sexual servitude and procurement of a child, keeping a place of child prostitution, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The male offender was charged on eight counts.
In September 2019, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with the Carbondale Police Department, conducted a web-based reverse sting that resulted in the arrest of eight men seeking to sexually exploit a minor in exchange for money. The identities of arrested offenders were included in reports by local media outlets. In a statement from the Garfield County Sherriff’s Office, to continue combatting the issue of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children in the county, similar operations would be conducted by deputies in the future. One of the eight men accused of soliciting sex with a minor was a firefighter with the Colorado River Fire Protection District and part time employee with the Crested Butte Fire Protection District. As a result of his arrest, he was placed on unpaid administrative leave from both departments, pending the outcome of the investigation. Additional agencies that participated in the operation included the Glenwood Springs Police Department, Carbondale Police Department, and Rifle Police Department, along with the Colorado State Patrol, Colorado Bureau of Investigation, and Homeland Security Investigations.
Web-Based Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.aspentimes.com/news/sting-operation-catches-nine-accused-child-predators-in-garfield-county (2019)
- https://crestedbuttenews.com/sting-operation-nabs-alleged-child-predators-including-cb-man (2019)
- https://www.postindependent.com/news/police-arrest-glenwood-antique-dealer-for-soliciting-child-prostitution (2019)
- https://www.postindependent.com/news/sting-operation-catches-nine-accused-child-predators-in-garfield-county (2019)
Sex Buyer Fired and/or Resigned Due to Arrest:
- https://www.postindependent.com/news/men-charged-with-soliciting-sex-from-children-appear-in-court (2019)
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- https://www.vaildaily.com/news/crime/former-town-of-vail-employee-charged-with-soliciting-child-prostitute-in-glenwood-springs (2018)
- https://www.postindependent.com/news/crime/grand-jury-indicts-two-for-trafficking-juveniles-in-glenwood-springs (2018)
- https://kdvr.com/news/problem-solvers/former-vail-government-employee-accused-of-embezzling-854k (2020)
- https://denver.cbslocal.com/ronald-braden-vail-it-director-embezzlement-arrest-child-prostitution-fugitive (2020)
- https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix-breaking/former-colorado-town-employee-run-police-takes-own-life-during-traffic-stop-phoenix (2020)