Kittitas County, WA

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

Kittitas County is a county in the center of Washington state, located just north of Yakima, WA, and has a population of approximately 48,000 residents. Its largest city and county seat is Ellensburg, WA. Prostitution activity has been well-documented throughout the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market are child sex trafficking, sexual exploitation of children, and violence committed against prostituted people.

Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies in their strategy for prevention and response. In effort to reduce commercial sex sales in the community, at least two reverse stings have been conducted within the county. For example, during an operation in late May 2015, officers from the Ellensburg Police Department posted decoy ads on websites known for prostitution and sex trafficking. As a result of the investigation, five mal sex buyers were arrested after attempting to solicit undercover officers for sex acts. The sex byers’ identities and ages were included in reports by local media outlets.

In December, 2018, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) and several partner agencies conducted a multi-day sting operation called “Operation Net Nanny,” which resulted in the arrest of 13 men who had allegedly attempted to sexually exploit children in exchange for money in Kittitas County. Undercover law enforcement officers in Kittitas County used various websites on the internet and phone applications to communicate with individuals interested in sexually exploiting children in exchange for money. According to reports, the operation generated hundreds of responses. The perpetrators who were arrested during the operation traveled to meet with the undercover detectives posing as underage girls and boys with the intent to engage in sexual activity with children as young as three-years-old. The names of the individuals arrested during the operation were included in a news release by the WSP. This was the 14th operation spearheaded by the WSP’s Missing and Exploited Children Task Force (MECTF), an Internet Crimes Against Children affiliate. Since the original operation in 2015, the WSP’s MECTF had made a total of 221 arrests and rescued more than 30 children from sexual exploitation.

Neighborhood action has also been a tactic employed in the county. For example, in 2019, the Kittitas County Community Development Services approved a plan to build a Loves Truck Stop in Easton, WA. Residents organized in opposition, concerned that the truck stop would bring crime that the city of approximately 400 residents was not equipped to properly manage. Residents believed that the truck stop would increase the demand for prostitution, sex trafficking, and affiliated crimes once completed. Additionally, concerns were expressed surrounding the city’s relatively small police force and their ability to control crimes if they were to increase due to the truck stop.

State Washington
Type County
Population 47935
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