Lyon County is located in the northwestern portion of Iowa, and its population is roughly 12,000. It abuts the South Dakota Border, and is part of the Sioux Falls metropolitan area. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the region, including in Lyon County. For example, local history includes an “uprising of Rock Rapids citizens against a house of prostitution in Rock Rapids in the 1890s. In the 1970s a woman was found murdered in Lyon County, and her identity was discovered in 2006 when a lab technician in Des Moines made the ID on a print that had come from the Los Angeles Police Department. The woman had been a sex trafficking victim, with a history of prostitution arrests dating back to when she was a minor in Long Beach, CA. A suspect was identified in 2016, who was a woman with a record of working as an escort and in prositution in and near Sioux Falls during that time. It is this woman that Lyon County Sheriff’s investigators believe killed the victim. Investigators believe the suspect was an escort, prostitute, and dancer, who liked to rob other escorts, prostitutes and dancers, adn believe the motive was robbery in the Lyon County murder.
Individuals from northwest Iowa are often involved in reverse stings conducted in Sioux Falls. For example, in 2019 the Sioux Falls Police Department announced the arrest of two men from Lyon County during a reverse prostitution sting designed to find people involved in human trafficking. Officers placed ads online on sites commonly used to advertise for prostitution, and they received over 100 phone calls and texts. The two men had arrived at the hotel to complete the transaction, and were arrested and charged with Hiring for Sexual Activity, which is what as known as a “Class 1 Misdemeanor” in South Dakota — the most serious class of misdemeanor before offenses turn into felonies.
Within the county, reverse stings have also been conducted. In August, 2017, the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office and the Emporia Police Department Narcotics Unit conducted a prostitution sting and arrested two local men on prostitution charges, as well as possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia, child endangerment, and use of telecommunications in drug transaction. The identities of the arrested men were publicly released, with the disclaimer that “all subjects arrested are innocent until proven guilty in court.”
- Lyon County Sheriff’s Office
- Emporia Police Department
Reverse Stings, Shaming:
Background on Local Prostitution:
- https://www.dglobe.com/news/rock-rapids-city-murals-iowa-community (2010)
- https://www.marshallindependent.com/lyon-county-men-caught-in-sex-sting/ (2019)
- www.lyoncountydailynews.com/?p=18983 (2019)
- https://www.nwestiowa.com/news/n-west-iowans-arrested-in-prostitution-sting (2019)
Background on Prostitution-Related Violence: