Kenosha, WI

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

Kenosha is a city in – and the county seat of – Kenosha County, WI, and has a population of approximately 100,000 residents. It is located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the city and surrounding areas for decades.  For example, in 1987, a federal grand jury indicted five Kenosha area nightclub operators for allegedly running an interstate prostitution business that used fake churches as a means to shield the proceeds from federal taxation. Commercial sex activity and its ancillary crimes have generated numerous  residential complaints to local law enforcement. Among the more serious crimes associated with the city’s commercial sex market is sex trafficking of adults and minors. For example, in June, 2013, a 34-year-old man was arrested on sex trafficking/pimping charges after a Kenosha motel manager believed there to be prostitution activity occurring at the motel, and contacted police. As a result of the investigation, law enforcement found that the sex trafficker posted ads on websites known for prostitution and sex trafficking activity and communicate with potential sex buyers regarding the motel’s location and prices, allegedly keeping half of the money for himself. The criminal complaint says, discovered in one of the rooms at the motel was the 14-month-old child that belonged to one of the women. He was arrested and charges with soliciting prostitution and pimping. He served three years in prison and was released on parole in 2017. In 2017, the offender violated his parole and was arrested again for similar charges. In 2016, a 55-year-old Kenosha woman was arrested for sex trafficking her two daughters. According to the Milwaukee Division of the FBI, the mother had placed advertisements on websites known for prostitution and sex trafficking of the two teenagers, aged 16 and 17. Authorities also found a registered sex offender renting a room in the apartment in with the teenage girls. In 2019, a 17-year-old child sex trafficking victim was arrested and charged with the murder of her alleged sex trafficker. According to the victim’s testimony, she first met the sex trafficker when she was 16. He was the first individual who responded to an ad she had posted on a website known for prostitution in order to pay for school supplies and snacks. According to reports, at the time they met, the 33-year-old sex trafficker was already under investigation by the Kenosha Police Department for sexual conduct with underage girls as young as 12. Since their initial meeting, the sex trafficker physically and sexually abused the 17-year-old girl from Milwaukee to Kenosha, for a period of months. Police found evidence that he was abusing multiple underage girls and in February, 2018, the offender was arrested and charged, and released without bail. In June, 2018, the 17-year-old girl shot and killed the sex trafficker, and set his house on fire. She was arrested by police for the murder of her sex trafficker.

In effort to combat instances of prostitution and sex trafficking, various demand reduction tactics have been deployed in the city. For example, in March, 2021, the Kenosha Police Department conducted a web-based sting operation resulting in the arrest and citation of 22 male sex buyers. Along with the citation, arrested offenders were issued a fine for the offense of soliciting prostitution. During the investigation undercover officials posted decoy advertisements on a website commonly known for prostitution. The 22 men, all adults, responded to the advertisements and were met by police officers when they arrived for their scheduled meeting. The investigation was conducted as the result of passage of a new ordinance by the Kenosha City Council that intended to focus on deterring and arresting individuals seeking to purchase commercial sex, rather than the city’s historic emphasis on arresting prostituted and trafficked persons. Each of the arrest sex buyers was given a citation carrying a $1,321 fine. Arrested offenders who had previous citation(s) for soliciting prostitution were referred for criminal charges in state court.

In October, 2021, an undercover operation focused on prostitution in the Kenosha area led to the arrest of a 35-year-old Kenosha man for five criminal prostitution and drug related charges. The man was charged with felony counts of possession of a firearm contrary to injunction, possession with intent to distribute Schedule V drugs, possession with intent to deliver cocaine, possession with intent to deliver THC, and with one misdemeanor count of patronizing prostitution. The offender was released from custody on a $15,000 cash bond. If convicted of all felony charges, he faces a maximum possible prison term of 18 years and a fine of $95,000. The prostitution charge carries a possible fine of $10,000 and nine months in county jail. According to the criminal complaint, Kenosha Police, working undercover at a local hotel, posted an advertisement on a websites known for prostitution activity. The following day, undercover officers received a text message from the defendant, who stated he had seen the advertisement. The officer responded with information that an hour would cost $200, or $120 for a half hour. When the offender arrived at the hotel, he placed him under arrest. During a search of the defendant, police found marijuana in his pocket, $680 in cash, and a holster with a Glock 9 mm pistol and ammunition.

Key Sources

Reverse Stings:

Background on Local Sex Trafficking and Prostitution:

Background on Violence Among Those Engaged in Prostitution:

Local Prostitution Ordinance:

State Wisconsin
Type City
Population 99868
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