Helena, MT

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

Located in the southern part of the state along Interstate 15, Helena is the capital of Montana and has a population of roughly 33,000 residents. It’s the largest city and county seat of Lewis and Clark County, MT. Prostitution and sex trafficking are known problems in the city and surrounding areas, dating back to times before Montana’s statehood. For example, in 1886 there were at least 52 prostituted women living near or on Wood and Clore Streets. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking.

To reduce the demand for commercial sex in the city, law enforcement has arrested sex buyers through alternative investigations. For example, in 2010, what began as a report of theft at a local convenience store resulted in the arrest of two men on charges of soliciting prostitution. Upon arrival to the scene, a sex buyer fled, leaving behind his car and two female passengers. The women told police that the man and his roommate had been sex trafficking a 16-year-old girl on Craigslist. Police arrested the second sex buyer/trafficker in Helena the following day. Helena (and Missoula) city officials worked with the recovered victims to identify the male sex buyers responsible for their exploitation. According to reports, detectives were able to identify 12 male sex buyers through information found on the sex traffickers’ phone records. All 12 were arrested and charged with solicitation.

After discovering the sex trafficking ring that exploited teenage girls in exchange for money, the Helena Police Department Police conducted a web-based reverse sting operation. According to reports, two sex buyers were arrested upon their arrival at a Helena hotel and charged with soliciting prostitution. The men faced a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail sentence of up to a year. They were also added to a list of people who had been cited for charges stemming from a prostitution ring in the Helena and Missoula areas. On March 18, 2011, one of the sex buyers pleaded guilty and received a 180-day suspended sentence, a one-year deferred sentenced, and was required to pay a fine of $340. The identities of arrested sex buyers were included in reports by local media outlets.

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Montana
Type City
Population 33105
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