Gilbert, AZ

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Gilbert is a city of approximately 237,000 residents, located about 20 miles east of Phoenix in Maricopa County, Arizona. Among the problems associated with local prostitution have been the serial killing and serial rapes targeting trafficked girls and women involved in prostitution, and cases of child sex trafficking have also been documented in the city and nearby communities such as Mesa and Chandler.

In an effort to reduce local demand for commercial sex, the Gilbert Police Department and Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office have conducted reverse stings. Spurred by complaints from community members of reported prostitution in some of the city’s massage parlors, hotels, and streets, officers have arrested prostituted women and replaced them with undercover female officers. As men arrive for their “appointments” and offer money to the decoy in exchange for sexual services, they are arrested by police.

In June 2018, a  man was arrested by the the Gilbert Police Department on suspicion of trying to arrange a meeting to have sexual contact with small children. Police arrested the man after undercover officers posing as parents of 2- and 3-year-old children corresponded with the man and arranged to meet him at a Mesa hotel. The suspect indicated he was interested in meeting the children to engage in sex, and sent an image of himself, as well as an image of a nude girl about 8-10 years old who was posed in a sexually explicit manner. The photo was used to confirm his identity. The suspect was charged with counts of child sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of a minor.

In July, 2019, twenty-five people in the Valley were arrested on child sex-trafficking charges in a multi-agency sting operation called Operation Summer Shield.  The arrests came after an undercover operation by the Tempe Police Department, the Mesa Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. The men arrested ranged in age from 19 to 63 years old, and they faced charges that include child sex trafficking, sexual abuse, luring of a minor for sexual exploitation, attempted sex conduct with a minor, furnishing harmful materials to a minor and possession of dangerous drugs. Undercover officers and detectives had placed ads on various websites and apps used by people interested in illegal sex acts with children. The suspects are named and pictured on a Tempe Police Department News release.

Key Partners

  • Gilbert Police Department
  • Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office
  • Chandler Police Department
  • Arizona Department of Public Safety

Key Sources



State Arizona
Type City
Population 237133
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