Minot, ND

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

Minot is a city of about 48,000 residents situated along Highway 2 in Northern part of North Dakota. It’s the county seat of Ward County. Prostitution and sex trafficking, including through illicit massage businesses, are well-documented problems in the county, generating numerous complaints to police from the community. The problems increased substantially due to the rapid population growth from the oil and gas “boom” in the Bakken region in the 2010s.

Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market are sex trafficking and targeted violence against those in prostitution. For example, in January 2016, a Nevada man was accused of human trafficking and offering a 14-year-old girl for prostitution in Minot and Williston. In October 2018, two people were charged with facilitating prostitution after trafficking a woman at Minot hotels. In February 2018, a 28-year-old man was arrested and charged with beating and raping an 18-year-old prostituted woman at a hotel in Minot. The man had offered her more money for more time but when she refused because he didn’t have the cash on him, he choked, beat, and raped her. The man escaped out a window after the victim’s friend, who was hiding in the bathroom, ran out after hearing screaming.

Violence against sex buyers themselves have also been document. In June 2021, a 65-year-old man arranged to meet a prostituted woman at a local hotel. There was an altercation between the sex buyer, the woman, and her boyfriend in which the woman’s boyfriend stabbed the sex buyer multiple times.

Reverse Stings

In response to such crimes, the Minot Police Department (MPD) has conducted several anti-prostitution operations, including reverse stings. In 2013 and 2014, undercover operations in Minot led to the arrest of ten sex buyers; their identities were released to the public. In September 2014, officers expanded their arsenal of demand-reduction tactics when a local hotel offered to be the location of a web-based reversal. Ten male sex buyers were arrested after replying to an online advertisement placed by police and arriving to meet a female undercover officer for commercial sex. Following the operation, a representative with the MPD noted that the department would like to conduct more operations but were constrained by limited resources. When asked by media outlets about the impetus for the sting, the officer stated:

It’s market-driven, it’s supply and demand, and if there is not a demand, then hopefully there won’t be a supply.

In the weeks following the sting, MPD officers reported the operation owed its success to the department’s collaboration with the hotel that allowed law enforcement to stage the sting on its premises, as well as Minot’s Inn Keepers Association. In an interview with members of the press, the MPD noted that “the police department has a liaison that works with members of the Minot Inn Keepers Association, updating them on resources they can use, and helps them identify possibly solicitors who may be trying to use their hotels.” When asked about his facility’s participation, the hotel’s general manager commented:

It’s for the city. For myself, I want the city to be seen in a positive way. We can go into other cities hit by this oil activity and they aren’t necessarily looked upon in a favorable way. I want Minot to be a travel destination.

In 2016, the Ward County Sheriff’s Office conducted a web-based reverse sting operation in Minot that resulted in the arrest of a man on charges of luring a minor online. According to a probable cause affidavit filed with North Central District Court, a sergeant with the Ward County Sheriff’s Office posted an ad on Craigslist posing as a teenager. The sex buyer allegedly responded to the ad and told the undercover officer that he “wanted to meet for sex” even after he was informed he was talking to a 14-year-old. He eventually agreed to meet an undercover officer at Oak Park in Minot. He was arrested upon arrival and allegedly told officers that he was at the park to “meet a 14 year old girl and tell her that she shouldn’t be meeting people from Craigslist.” The offender was charged with luring a minor by computer, a Class B felony that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. If convicted, there is a minimum required sentence of one year in prison under state law and he would also be required to register as a sex offender.

Minot Police conducted another web-based reversed sting where they posed as a 16-year-old girl. A 56-year-old man was arrested after he tried to plan a sexual encounter in exchange for money. He was arrested on multiple offenses, including luring of a minor by computer and solicitation of prostitution. He was taken to the Ward County Jail.

John School

Additional demand-reduction tactics such as “john schools” have been documented in the city. The area’s Demand Reduction Program (DRP), a partnership between 31:8 ProjectNorth Dakota Attorney General’s Office, and the University of Mary, opened in 2017. After a slow start and lack of attendees due to low awareness and an underinvestment in demand-focused operations, 24 offenders (ranging from 20-54 years old) have completed the “john school” as of 2020.

The one-day, $500 program serves as an intermediate sentencing, diversion, and education option for offenders charged with purchasing prostitution (sex buyers) and is offered quarterly in BismarckFargoGrand ForksMinot, and Watford City.  Incorporating feedback from human trafficking survivors, the course raises awareness on the importance of implementing demand reduction efforts in order to combat prostitution and sex trafficking activity. Pre- and post-program tests are administered to assess changes in participant behaviors and/or perspectives.

Program Curriculum:

  • Cause of Human Trafficking: Connection between prostitution, trafficking, and criminal activity.
  • Impacts of Human Trafficking on the Buyer: Legal ramifications, medical and health risks of further criminal activity.
  • Impacts of Human Trafficking on the Victim: Connection between their criminal activity and health, psychological, and social impacts on the victim.
  • Impacts of Human Trafficking on the Community: Local, regional, and global aspect.
  • Developing Healthy Relationships and Communities: Conditions of healthy relationships, services available to aid individuals, responsibilities as a member of a community to develop healthy personal attitudes regarding intimacy and sexuality.

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

John School, Public Education:

Neighborhood Action:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution & Sex Buyers in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State North Dakota
Type City
Population 47834
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