Larimer County, CO

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

Larimer County is a county of approximately 360,000 residents in the U.S. state of Colorado, situated roughly 60 miles north of Denver, CO. The largest city and county seat is Fort Collins, CO. Larimer County and its municipalities have documented substantial prostitution and sex trafficking activity especially in Fort Collins, Loveland, and Estes Park. For at least two decades, instances of prostitution, particularly those arranged online and conducted within city hotels and adult-oriented businesses, have been reported throughout the county. Several cases of solicitation, commercial sexual exploitation, and child sex trafficking have also been documented. For example, in March 2017, man was arrested after a two-year investigation into a sex trafficking case involving two women and a 16-year-old girl. Larimer County Sheriff’s Office arrested an booked the suspect at the Larimer County Jail on an outstanding warrant stemming from a January 2015, incident where deputies learned he had been sex trafficking the woman and an underage girl at a Fort Collins motel. He was charged with one count each of human trafficking of a minor for sexual servitude, human trafficking for sexual servitude, pimping, pimping of a child, pandering of a child — arranging prostitution, procurement of a child, and four counts of being a habitual criminal. Violence common in prostitution scenarios has included an incident in May 2014, in which a prostitution raid resulted in the fatal shooting of a sex buyer by police after he allegedly produced a weapon.

Although media outlets have reported sex buyer arrests in Larimer County dating back to the mid-1990s, evidence of demand-focused stings by local law enforcement first appeared in 2015. In late March and early April of 2015, the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office collaborated with the Fort Collins Police Department to conduct an investigation to identify individuals attempting to purchase sex online. Officers placed decoy advertisements to websites known for commercial sex activity, and arranged to the meet the individuals who responded to the listings at local hotels. Over a two-week period and two web-based reverse stings, 10 sex buyers were arrested. Both operations were conducted with the cooperation of local hotels in the area. Following the investigation, all of the arrested sex buyers’ identities and mugshots were publicized in the press, each photo being indicated as taken by the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office.

In January 2018, 21 male sex buyers were arrested in a web-based reverse sting in Larimer County. The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office and Fort Collins Police Department posted false advertisements on various “escort sections of common buy/sell/trade websites.” In only one day, a total of 444 people responded to the ads, with a total of 21 men arranged appointments for what they believed to be for commercial sex transactions, which was actually a web-based reverse prostitution sting.

In late July 2018, 11 male sex buyers were arrested during a “Human Trafficking Demand Reduction Operation” that attracted hundreds of men looking to buy sexual services. During the one-day operation, over 280 potential sex buyers responded to decoy advertisements placed online by Fort Collins police. Eleven men scheduled appointments and agreed to pay for various sex acts, totaling $1,825 in monetary exchanges ($165 per male sex buyer).

In June 2019, the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office coordinated eight arrests along the Interstate 25 corridor, issuing citations for eight men on charges connected to prostitution. The LCSO spokesman said the eight men were charged with patronizing a prostitute, a Class 1 misdemeanor; and soliciting for prostitution, a Class 3 misdemeanor. The men reside in Northern Colorado and Wyoming communities, including Loveland, Greeley and Windsor.  The operation took place between Loveland and Wellington, according to the release. The Fort Collins Police Services and human trafficking-focused nonprofit Free Our Girls also aided in the operation. The LCSO spokesperson added that this was the first sting of 2019, and police seized $1,290 during the operation, and said,

“The goal of human trafficking demand reduction operation is to ultimately deter those who would illegally patronize a prostitute, which in turn can lessen the abundance of prostitution activity in our community.  It is known that prostitutes are often engaging in illegal activity on behalf of pimps or human traffickers, frequently against their will.”

In June 2021, eleven people were taken into custody following a child predator sting by Greeley Police. The operation was called “Greeley Predators.” The joint task force operation was executed on June 25 and 26 and targeted people suspected of crimes related to the sexual exploitation of children. The operation was taking place alongside the Greeley Stampede event because of the “influx of visitors,” according to Greeley Police. The suspects were attempting to arrange sexual encounters with a juvenile after responding to ads that were placed on websites commonly perused by suspects seeking illegal sex acts.

In December, 2021, four people were arrested in a sting operation for allegedly seeking to pay for sexual contact with underage children. The sting was conducted by the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office from Dec. 1-3 at two locations in the county, with help from Homeland Security and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. Charges faced by the alleged offenders included felony charges of internet luring of a child with intent for sexual contact or exploitation, attempted sexual assault on a child, and patronizing a prostituted child.

Sex buyers and sex traffickers have also been arrested as the result of alternative investigations and residential tips to local law enforcement. For example, in December 2016, a male sex buyer called police to report a theft at his house. He told officers that he contacted the prostituted woman online after he found her on for commercial sex. According to the sex buyer, the woman asked him to shower and, not trusting her, he told police that the had set up his smartphone to record her. Court records say the footage showed the robbery. In 2018, the sex buyer was convicted of misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution and sentenced to 10 hours of community service and nine months of probation. The woman pleaded guilty to theft and was sentenced to 40 days in jail. The identity and image of the sex buyer was included in reports.

In 2018, a 35-year-old Greeley man was arrested on six felonies charges for the commercial sexual exploitation of multiple minors living in foster care – one of whom had a developmental disability – for two years. According to reports, police initially learned about the case after the victim with a developmental disability disclosed the sexual assault to her teacher, after arriving late to school that day in February 2016. The girl reportedly told police that other girls in her former foster home “were having sex for money.” The warrant states that she had previously been in a foster home with a number of other girls, but a Greeley woman later took over as her custodian. Officers then spoke with other girls who had been at the foster home where one of the girls spoke about a man she knew as ‘Squid’ or ‘Squidward,’ whom she met in early 2015, and who bought her “shoes, alcohol and other things in exchange for her having sex with him.” Upon further investigation, police discovered the true identity of the man, who police confirmed was the same man who had sexually exploited the girl with a developmental disability. In June 2016, police responded to a call from the North Colorado Medical Center to speak with a girl who claimed the same man had raped her after she attempted to severe contact with him. After confirming a DNA match, police arrested the man on five counts of patronizing a prostituted child, and one count of sexual assault on an at-risk person.

Employment Loss

Loss of employment is also a consequence of buying sex in the city. For example, in 1996, two officers from the Loveland Police Department and one deputy from the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office were suspended after allegedly soliciting sex from prostituted women during a raid at a massage parlor in Fort Collins. According to reports, the three officers entered the massage parlor at different times, each wearing a radio transmitter, and eight days later, three women were arrested. The officers were not instructed in engage in sexual contact with the women during the operation. Upon the discovery of their engagement, the officers were first placed on administrative leave, but later reports confirmed that all three officers had been suspended. In April 1996, the Loveland Chief of Police died by suicide. An investigation into the Chief’s death confirmed that he was not involved in the incident at the massage parlor, but the stress of the officers’ suspension and the case were factors in his death.

John School: First Offender Restoration Initiative

An option prosecutors have the option in utilizing for arrested sex buyers in Larimer County is an 8-hour, 1-day mandatory “John School” class for first-time offenders. First Offender Restoration Initiative (FORI) is an educational alternative sentencing program in Northern Colorado designed for men charged with patronizing and/or soliciting a prostitute. FORI is an interactive seminar that includes education and “exposure to the realities of prostitution and sex trafficking in Northern Colorado.” The program is delivered by local therapist Chris Bruno and was developed in partnership with multiple agencies in the Fort Collins area, including the Larimer County District Attorney’s office, Fort Collins Police Department, Larimer County Sheriff, Restoration Counseling and local anti-trafficking organizations.

The fee for the First Offender Restoration Initiative class is $375. Classes begin at 8 a.m. and finish no later than 6 p.m. Specific locations are announced one week prior to the class to maintain confidentiality. Only those deemed eligible by the courts may attend. Attendance to the entire class is mandatory in order to receive the Certificate of Completion. In many cases, participants who complete the FORI course and receive a certificate of completion may have their charges reduced or dismissed.

Key Sources

Street Level Reverse Stings:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:

Employment Loss, Identity Disclosure:

John School:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Colorado
Type County
Population 359066
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