Meridian, ID

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

Meridian is a city of approximately 118,000 residents in southwestern Idaho, located in Ada County. It is the second largest city in Idaho and is a suburb of the state’s capital, Boise. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity has been well-documented in the city, surrounding communities, and unincorporated areas of Ada County. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates (such as child sexual abuse and exploitation) result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Ada County law enforcement officials reported a connection between an increase in local homicides and prostitution in the county. According to an Ada County prosecutor, the county accounted for two-thirds of the state’s prostitution arrests. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market in this part of Idaho is child sex trafficking. For example, in August 2013, a 40-year-old Boise man was arrested for the sexual exploitation of children by producing and distributing child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, i.e., child pornography) between 2010 and 2012. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison on count one, and ten years on count two, to run concurrently, followed by a lifetime of supervised release. The investigation of the offender’s activities began in April 2012 after Boise police were contacted about a Craigslist advertisement “offering a young child for sex.” Investigators worked with Craigslist and Google to trace the ad back to the offender in mid-May. Boise police executed a warrant to search the suspect’s home on May 31, 2012. The offender had produced 26 sexually explicit images and videos of female minors who were less than six years of age and distributed the content (in addition to CSAM he had obtained from the Internet) via email to at least 16 other individuals.

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. To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, law enforcement agencies have conducted both street-level and web-based reverse stings. For example, in November 2020, a street-level reverse sting was conducted by the Meridian Police Department with assistance from the Department of Homeland Security and the Idaho State Police Fusion Center. As a result of the operation, one woman was arrested for prostitution, and three male sex buyers were arrested on misdemeanor charges of “patronizing a prostitute.” The identities and images of arrested offenders were disclosed in news releases.

In 2011, detectives conducted a web-based reverse sting operation and arrested a total of 12 male sex buyers, and prostituted women. The Deputy Chief of the Meridian Police Department stated that “there’s an obvious demand in the Treasure Valley,” as police reportedly had difficulty arranging meetings with prostituted persons during this operation due to the overwhelming number of sex buyers in search of commercial sex online. In the same news article, a prostituted woman interviewed by officials warned readers about the dangers of commercial sex, whether on the streets or online, saying, “I’ve been locked in people’s houses, and they’ve refused to let me leave unless I do what they say.” The web-based reverse sting operation targeted prostituted women and sex buyers. It consisted of undercover officers either posting decoy ads for commercial sex and communicating with potential sex buyers or responding to ads from prostituted women online. The identities of the arrestees were not included in the report.

In addition, to reverse sting operations, sex buyers have also been apprehended as the result of alternative investigations. For example, in 2010, what was initially a typical response to a home burglary alarm that had been set off at a local residence, ended in the arrest of two women and one man on prostitution-related charges by Meridian police. When police arrived at the residence, they found two women and one man, the man, who was significantly older than the woman, was yelling. According to reports, the man had been attempting to leave the residence to end an argument about the price and type of sex acts the three would engage in when someone inadvertently set off the alarm. The sex buyer told police that he had responded to one of the woman’s ads on Craigslist, a website known for prostitution and sex trafficking, and arranged to meet the two women at the residence. Meridian police handed the case to the Boise City Attorney’s Office, which made the arrests a few days following the incident. Both women were charged with prostitution, a misdemeanor. The charge against one of the women was dropped due to her cooperation in the case. The man was found guilty of patronizing a prostitute and was given a withheld judgment, meaning that if he completed a year of probation without any further incidents, the charge could be removed from his record. The identities and images of arrested offenders were included in reports by local media outlets.

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Idaho
Type City
Population 117635
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