Las Cruces, NM

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

Las Cruces is a city of approximately 113,000 residents in the southern part of the U.S. state of New Mexico, on the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert, situated along the New Mexico-Texas-Mexico border, near El Paso, TX. It is the largest city and county seat of Doña Ana County, NM. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city and surrounding areas. This activity and its ancillary crimes have resulted in complaints to local law enforcement from residents and businesses. Among the more serious issues associated with the local commercial sex market are violence committed against people engaged in commercial sex, child sex trafficking, and the online sexual exploitation of children. For example, in 2018, the Las Cruces Police Department participated in a multi-agency operation, led by U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), that resulted in the recovery and/or location of 78 missing minors in the past two months in the area. These minors were all believed to be survivors of sexual exploitation or were reported as runaways who were at risk for being sexually exploited.

In efforts to decrease prostitution and sex trafficking activity, tactics to reduce demand for commercial sex have occurred. For example, in June 2016, a Las Cruces police sergeant resigned following allegations that he had been soliciting sex acts from women in exchange for drugs. The LCPD were made aware of the situation through an anonymous informant, who reported the officer to the Department. Upon receiving the allegations, the LCPD immediately opened an internal investigation regarding the officer in question. Police conducted an undercover operation in which audio and video surveillance recorded a meeting between the anonymous informant, one of the women the officer was soliciting sex from in exchange for drugs, and the officer in question. In the footage, the woman allegedly stated that the officer in question, “is her connect and that she had performed sexual favors for him…in return for narcotics and information.” According to a statement from the Las Cruces Police Chief Jaime Montoya, as a result of the investigation, the officer in question resigned from his position,

“When I heard of the possible allegations against an officer of the Las Cruces Police Department in early June, I immediately authorized a criminal investigation together with our independent law enforcement partners. The officer in question subsequently resigned from the department during the internal investigation and is no longer employed by the city of Las Cruces as of June 9, 2016.”

The sex buyer’s identity and image were released by police to local media outlets.

Key Sources

Employment Loss, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaging in Commercial Sex, Child Endangerment:

State New Mexico
Type City
Population 112914
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