Merrill, WI

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

Merrill is a city of approximately 9,300 residents and serves as the county seat of Lincoln County, Wisconsin. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city, surrounding communities, and unincorporated areas of Lincoln County. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market are sex trafficking, child endangerment, and violence committed against people involved in these transactions.

Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies in their strategy for prevention and response. For example, in January 2014, a 33-year-old Merrill man arrested during a prostitution sting reached a plea deal with prosecutors.; he could have a prostitution charge amended to disorderly conduct if he stayed out of trouble. The man, a former University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point faculty member, was one of four people arrested during the sting. The other suspects in the case accepted similar deals. Police say the investigation focused on individuals who responded to advertisements for escort services on websites such as “”

In March 2018, police conducted an undercover operation to apprehend those seeking to buy access to sexually abuse children. One man thought he had paid a teenager’s aunt $100 for a key to a hotel room that housed a 15-year-old girl. The “aunt” was an undercover agent, and the “girl” that had set up the encounter was also an undercover officer. The man was arrested, and his identity was publicly disclosed. In April 2019, the 68-year-old was sentenced by a Lincoln County judge to six months in jail and ten years of probation. As part of his sentence, he must also pay a $1,000 fine and serve 250 hours of community service.

Key Partners

  • Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office
State Wisconsin
Type City
Population 9347
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