Grand Forks, ND

Tactics Used

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

Grand Forks is a city of about 50,000 residents, situated in eastern North Dakota.  Prostitution is known to have occurred in the city and surrounding areas, dating back to the late 1800s during the building of railroads.  Recently, prostitution has reportedly increased a great deal since 2011, in response to the boom in oil production in the state.  At least one case of sex trafficking a minor in the city has also concerned police and others, and complaints to police from residents about prostitution have increased.

Among the local efforts to address such problems have been the use of tactics targeting consumer-level demand.  Four men were arrested in Grand Forks in January, 2013 in the city’s first reverse sting, conducted at a local hotel.  The hotel manager was a friend of a Grand Forks police officer, and agreed to let police use their hotel to set up the reverse sting.  The hotel has had no known cases of prostitution or other crime, and prostitution occurring in that particular hotel was not the subject of the investigation.  After responding to a decoy online ad, four men were arrested for “hiring an individual to engage in sexual activity,” a Class B Misdemeanor in North Dakota. The maximum penalty is 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Similar operations occurred in April 2014 and February 2015, resulting in the arrests of 13 sex buyers. In the days following the operations, all of the johns’ names and other identifying information were released to the public. One john arrested in the February 2015 reversal was charged with “human trafficking with a victim under the age of 18, a class AA felony.” He allegedly attempted to purchase sex from an undercover officer who he believed to be a minor girl. In September 2015, the Grand Forks Herald reported that the man had “pleaded guilty to corruption or solicitation of minors, a Class A misdemeanor,” and had been sentenced to “two months in jail, though the court allowed him to serve the time on electronic home monitoring, followed by one and a half years of probation.” He was also reportedly ordered to complete community service.

Key Partners

  • Grand Forks Police Department
  • Grand Forks County District Court
  • Grand Forks County State’s Attorney Office
  • Grand Forks County Correctional Center

Key Sources

State North Dakota
Type City
Population 52903
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