Lincoln County, SD

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

Lincoln County, is a county of approximately 68,000 residents located in Southeastern South Dakota. Its county seat is Canton, SD. Part of Sioux Falls, SD lies within the county, and other substantial towns include Tea, SD. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented within 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 is child sex trafficking. For example, in 2009, a Tea couple was accused of using their home as a base for an underage sex trafficking operation. They were accused in federal court of conspiring to “sell the services” of at least three children for purposes of sex trafficking through online ads. The arrests of the couple came after a six-month investigation initiated by a tip to local police. The investigation included the FBI, the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Department. In another case, one man was indicted for operating a sex trafficking operation in and around Sioux Falls from mid-2011 until late June 2012. According to the office of U.S. Attorney, his victims included multiple local women and girls. He advertised the victims on, drove them to various hotels and motels, and collected all or some of the proceeds of the commercial sex acts. In 2013, he was sentenced the life imprisonment on three sex trafficking counts and additional sentences on other charges. The FBI has identified the Twin Cities area as one of the nation’s 13 largest centers for child sex trafficking. In October 2019, two Tea residents were arrested in Sioux Falls on prostitution and sex trafficking/pimping charges. Police responded to an internet ad and planned to meet with the suspected sex traffickers at a local hotel. Officers arrested a woman on prostitution and a man on sex trafficking/pimping charges.

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. For example, in November 2010, a Sioux Falls doctor pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking as the result of his participation in a child sex trafficking operation in which he was allegedly solicited minors for sex online. Prosecutors dropped other charges as part of the plea agreement. The drug count stems from prescriptions for Oxycontin that the doctor wrote for the man who operated the ring. The original charges accused the doctor of sexually exploiting underage girls in exchange for money and writing an Oxycontin prescription for a Tea resident indicted in the child sex trafficking operation. As a result of his arrest, the offender voluntarily ceded his medical license in Minnesota, Iowa, and South Dakota. His identity was included in reports from local media outlets. This case was investigated by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, and the Tea Police Department.

In February 2019, the Sioux Falls Police Department announced a commitment to operations intended to deter sex buyers and reduce the demand for commercial sex, as a means of reducing problems associated with prostitution and sex trafficking. Sioux Falls police posted decoy ads for commercial sex and had responses from over 100 individuals. The police efforts are part of a comprehensive push to address sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, which includes victims service programs, and a human trafficking awareness conference held in March 2019.

Key Sources

Sex Buyer Arrest, Employment Loss, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Region:

Background on Prostitution in the Region:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State South Dakota
Type County
Population 67870
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