Kotzebue, AK

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Kotzebue is a city in the Northwest Arctic Borough of Alaska. It is the borough’s seat, by far its largest community (population roughly 3,200) and the economic and transportation hub for the region’s small villages. It is located about 30 miles north of the Arctic Circle and is accessible year round only by airplane, and by boat in the summer.  The city has just 26 miles of gravel roads for summer travel, and none of the roads connect to anything outside the region. The city is 200 miles north of the nearest city, Nome (pop. 3,900), and over 500 miles northwest of Anchorage.

Prostitution and sex trafficking have been documented in the community, and at least one sex buyers has been arrested and his identity disclosed publicly.  In January 2021 the  U.S. Attorney announced that a Kotzebue man had been named in a federal complaint for sex trafficking of a minor. He was arrested in December 2020 and was ordered detained.  The Federal complaint alleges that the man became the subject of a federal investigation when the FBI received a tip alleging a minor had been sexually abused by the suspect approximately 15 times over the course of three years, with the first instance occurring when the victim was just 10 years old. He allegedly gave the victim money after each instance of sexual abuse, and often gave her alcohol and marijuana before or after the sexual abuse.  The complaint further alleges that the sexual abuse happened in the man’s home, his vehicle and on one occasion, on a boat where the victim tried to escape at least five times. The man was indicted by a federal grand jury for sex trafficking of a minor. If convicted, he would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Anchorage Police Department (APD) Task Force Officers investigated this case as part of the FBI’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, with assistance from the Alaska State Troopers (AST) and Kotzebue Police Department (KPD).

Key Partners

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Anchorage Police Department (APD) Task Force Officers
  • FBI’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force
  • Alaska State Troopers (AST)
  • Kotzebue Police Department (KPD)
State Alaska
Type City
Population 3287
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