Kalispell, 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

Kalispell is a city of approximately 26,000 residents located in Northwest Montana across the border from British Columbia. It’s the county seat of Flathead County, MT. Cases of prostitution have been reported in the city and throughout the county. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. For example, in 2004, a county businessman was indicted on 14 prostitution-related offenses, the majority of which were felonies for soliciting sex from minors and child sexual abuse. The sex trafficker’s trial consisted of the largest jury to be convened in Flathead County up until that point.

Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. Kalispell has been the site of at least two web-based reverse sting operations, conducted in a collaborative effort with other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, such as the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) and the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.  For example, in August 2014, FCSO deputies worked with officers from the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force and the Missoula Police Department to conduct a child sex trafficking investigation. During the operation, officers arrested at least six male sex buyers from Kalispell and another from Missoula. Although the details of the sting were not immediately disclosed, members of the local media reported that at least one of the male sex buyers was arrested after he tried to solicit sex from a detective who was posing as a mother advertising her daughter. The man allegedly placed “a series of calls and text messages, [and] arranged to meet either a 10-year-old girl or a 15-year-old girl in exchange for a ‘donation.’ [He] stated he didn’t know which one he wanted because he wanted to see them first.” The names of some of the male sex buyers were released to the public.

The Kalispell Police Department (KDP) have also known to periodically conduct web-based reverse sting operations that target individuals seeking to purchase sex from adults. One such sting happened in 2017, resulting in the arrest of seven male sex buyers. Each of the sex buyers received misdemeanor citations for responding to decoy advertisements for commercial sex. Officers from FCSO and KPD ran the online ads for two days and received 145 emails and 60 text messages in response. The men who arranged to meet who they believed to be a prostituted woman were cited upon their arrival at a local motel. The operation was a combined effort of the FCSO, the KPD, the Montana ICAC Task Force, the Northwest Drug Task Force, and Homeland Security Investigations. The identities of the sex buyers were not released.

In addition to reverse sting operations, sex buyers have also been apprehended through alternate investigations and residential tips. For example, in 2004, a 61-year-old man was arrested and charged with solicitation of prostitution after community members alerted Kalispell police. During the year long investigation, officers executed three search warrants that ultimately led to the discovery that he and another individual had “preyed upon impoverished young women, many of whom struggled with drug addiction,” and “enticed the women into debt through his loan offices, then demanded sex as payment when they could not repay the loans.” In addition, the man was accused of “paying millions of dollars directly for sex over the past several years.” In early 2005, the sex buyer was indicted on 14 prostitution-related charges, the majority of which were felonies, and in the summer of that year he was found guilty of promotion of prostitution, sexual abuse of children for photographs he took, and four counts of prostitution. He was sentenced to 20 years—with 18 of them suspended—provided that he complete sex offender treatment. His two-year sentence was mandatory and did not have the option of parole. The sex buyer was also ordered to refrain from unsupervised contact with young women and was prohibited from offering loans in the future.

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Montana
Type City
Population 26110
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