Malheur County, OR

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

Malheur County is a county of approximately 32,000 residents, located in Southeastern Oregon. Its county seat is the city of Vale, and its largest city is Ontario, OR. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been documented in the county. Among the more serious crimes associated with the county’s commercial sex market is child sex trafficking.

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 December 2016, the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office announced the completion of a series of web-based stings focused on reducing sex trafficking and prostitution activity. The stings were conducted over a five-day period. Among those arrested during the investigations were 11 male sex buyers on misdemeanor charges of attempted prostitution solicitation. According to media reports, the men were apprehended by undercover officers after responding to a decoy ad on websites known for prostitution and sex trafficking and arranging to meet with undercover officers posing as prostituted persons at a hotel in Ontario. Three alleged prostituted persons and one sex trafficker/pimp were also arrested during the stings. The sex trafficker/pimp was charged with felony compelling prostitution. According to reports, the eleven arrested male sex buyers had contacted undercover officers to arrange sex acts in exchange for money. All of the arrestees’ names and other identifying information were carried in the press. The MCSO, which collaborated with the Ontario, Nyssa, and Payette (ID) police departments, declined to identify which websites the ads were posted on.

The MCSO has also collaborated with the Portland Police Bureau Sex-Trafficking Unit to conduct web-based reverse sting operations targeting sex buyers and sex traffickers in the county. For example, in 2017, a two-day sting operation in Ontario, led by the Portland Police Bureau Sex-Trafficking Unit with assistance from the MCSO, resulted in the arrest of 26 male sex buyers. In addition to conducting the sting operation, the MCSO also participated in an educational training session from the Portland Police Bureau Sex-Trafficking Unit, where officers learned about the importance of demand reduction and related tactics.

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:

Local Ordinances (Nyssa):

State Oregon
Type County
Population 31571
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