Jefferson County, Colorado, has a population of approximately 575,000, making it the fourth-most populous county in Colorado. The county seat is Golden, and the most populous city is Lakewood. It is located just southeast of Denver. Prostitution and child sex trafficking have a well-documented presence in the county, and produce numerous additional problems. To combat consumer-level demand for commercial sex, county law enforcement has teams with municipal, state, and federal agencies to conduct reverse stings. For example, in May 2012, a large-scale prostitution sweep in the Denver metro area confirmed the presence of sex trafficking and child prostitution networks in Lakewood; in September 2015, one of the ring’s procurers was convicted of “eight felony counts including pandering of a child, pimping of a child, keeping a place of child prostitution and soliciting for child prostitution,” and sentenced to up to 120 years in prison. In a separate incident, a traffic stop in February 2014 uncovered a case involving three adults who trafficked a 15-year-old girl in Lakewood for commercial sex. In the 1980s, prostituted women were found murdered in the city, several of which are believed to be the victims of a prolific serial killer who specifically targeted prostituted persons in the greater Denver area.
To combat consumer-level demand for commercial sex, the Lakewood Police Department began conducting street-level reverse stings since at least 1990. It has since incorporated the use of web-based reverse stings as well. Once apprehended, johns may have their names and other identifying information released to the media. Web-based reversals have also occurred in the County. For exampl, in February, 2014, it was announced that five men and one woman have been arrested as part of a child human trafficking ring operating in Jefferson County. The arrests for commercial sexual exploitation of children were the result of a joint operation of the FBI’s Innocence Lost Task Force, Lakewood Police Department, and the District Attorney’s Office. The investigation began in November 2012 when one of the victims reported to a counselor that she had been sexually assaulted by the alleged ringleader of the child prostitution ring. There were three female victims identified in this operation; one was 13 and two were 16 years old, and each had run away from home and were truant from school and each had been lured into the prostitution net by drugs. Through the course of the investigation, a complex, multi-layer operation was uncovered in which young girls were given methamphetamine and forced to have sex with members of the ring, their associates, or strangers in exchange for money or drugs allegedly paid to the ringleader or other members of the prostitution ring.
In 2014 a john school program was launched in Lakewood by Better Communities Colorado LLC. The Colorado John School Program’s mission is to reduce the demand for commercial sex in the Denver Metropolitan area by educating offenders about the negative consequences of prostitution and increasing their awareness of health risks, prostitution laws and healthy relationships. It consists of an intake session and a one-day class, and classes are scheduled four times per year. The fee is $400.00 and it must be paid in full at the intake session. The intake session consists of an intake questionnaire and meeting with a counselor. The purpose of this is to identify risk factors that may contribute to the participant’s risky sexual behaviors and to provided needed community resources. The intake session must be completed before attending the class.
- Community impact
- Reasons men buy sex and risks they face
- Effects of prostitution on prostituted women
- STD’s and safer sex
- Legal consequences and dynamics of pimping and recruiting
- Healthy relationships
- Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office
- Lakewood Police Department
- Better Communities Colorado LLC.
Street-Level Reverse Stings:
- “Lakewood Prostitution Sting Nets Dozen Men”, Denver Post, July 21 1990.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 20 Arrests; Female Officers Dress as Prostitutes”, ABC/KMGH-TV 7, December 11 2001.
- “Lakewood Crime Blotter: Cabbie Caught in Prostitution Sting”, Denver Post, October 23 2013.
Web-Based Reverse Stings:
- https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/denver/press-releases/2014/six-arrested-in-child-prostitution-ring-in-jefferson-county (2014)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Police Going After Pimps of Child Prostitutes”, ABC/KMGH-TV 7, August 18 2010.
- “Prostitution Bust Nets 10 in Hunt for Bosses”, ABC/KMGH-TV 7, October 6 2010.
- “Man Gets 8 Years Prison for Child Trafficking”, NBC/KUSA-TV 9, August 16 2011.
- “Kids Living as Prostitutes in Denver: ‘This Is Everywhere’”, NBC/KUSA-TV 9, December 22 2011.
- “4 Charged in Alleged Child-Prostitute Ring in Colorado”, CBS/KCNC-TV 4, January 30 2012.
- “14 Accused of Trafficking Children for Sex Across Colorado”, NBC/KUSA-TV 9, January 30 2012.
- “Authorities Bust Human Trafficking Ring in Colorado”, CBS/KCNC-TV 4, December 10 2012.
- “6 Arrested in Child Prostitution Ring”, NBC/KUSA-TV 9, February 13 2014.
- “Six Alleged Members of Jefferson County Child Prostitution Ring Arrested; One Still at Large”, ABC/KMGH-TV 7, February 13 2014.
- “Traffic Stop Leads to Child Prostitution Case Out of Lockwood”, CBS/KCNC-TV 4, February 27 2014.
- “Court Documents Outline Jeffco Crime Spree, Sex Trafficking Case”, Denver Post, August 24 2014.
- “JeffCo Accuses Two of Forcing 17-Year-Old Girl into Prostitution,” Denver Post, April 7 2015.
- “Child Pimping Ringleader Sentenced to 120 Years to Life in Prison,” CBS/KCNC-TC 4, September 16 2015.
- “Lakewood Mom Accused of Sex Trafficking Her 12-Year-Old Daughter,” Denver Post, October 14 2015.
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Licensing May Help Lakewood Escort Hookers to Jail”, Denver Post, February 8 2009.
Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Denver Murder Suspect Wants State to Provide Public Defender”, Colorado Springs Gazette, September 4 1988.
- “Prosecutors Put Hopes On Line in Slaying Cases Solution to Puzzle Proving Elusive”, Rocky Mountain News, April 15 1990.
- “Could Serial Killer Be Responsible for 26 Unsolved Murders?”, Daily Mail (U.K.), March 8 2012.
- “Vincent Groves, Deceased Denver Serial Killer, May Have Killed Up to 20 People”, Huffington Post, March 8 2012.
- “Serial Killer Worked Denver Streets from ’75 to ’95, Police Say”, Denver Post, September 2 2012.