Missoula, MT

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Missoula is the second largest city in the state of Montana with a population of approximately 69,000 residents. Cases of prostitution and sex trafficking have been reported in the city for at least two decades. Local businesses and residents have complained about prostitution, and the community plays a role in law enforcement deciding to conduct operations.

In an effort to reduce prostitution in the city, local law enforcement conduct reverse stings. At times efforts have been ad hoc in nature, as in August 1988, when the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office worked with a confidential informant to arrange a meeting with a john after receiving reports the man was “offering legal services to female clients if they would have sex with him or let him procure them for other men.” The informant met the man at a Missoula hotel, where he then solicited her while MCSO videotaped the transaction. He was promptly arrested, and had his identity publicized.

Officers have also coordinated efforts to conduct web-based operations targeting adults soliciting commercial sex from minors. In December 2013, the MCSO and Missoula County Internet Crimes against Children Task Force conducted a sting wherein officers “posted advertisements on the websites Craigslist and Backpage, posing as an adult female willing to prostitute a 12-year-old female relative.” Six men and one woman were arrested as a result; each was charged with felony child sex abuse, and had their names released to the public. In August 2014, the Task Force conducted a similar reversal with the support of the Missoula Police Department and Flathead County Sheriff’s Office that resulted in the arrest of six johns. Although the details of the operation were not immediately disclosed, members of the local media reported that at least one john was charged with “felony attempted child prostitution after he allegedly tried to set up a sexual encounter with a 13-year-old girl through a detective posing as her mother.”

Additionally, following the discovery of a trafficking ring that recruited and prostituted minor teenage girls in 2010, city officials worked with the recovered victims to identify the men who had purchased sex from them. As a result, 12 johns were arrested and charged with solicitation. According to media reports at the time, “nearly all appeared in Missoula County Justice Court and pleaded guilty or no contest to being clients of prostitution” and were given a “six-month suspended sentences and fines and fees of $635.” Their identities were also publicized.


Key Partners

  • Missoula Police Department
  • Missoula County Sheriff’s Office
  • Missoula County Internet Crimes against Children Task Force
  • FBI’s Montana Regional Violent Crime Task Force

Key Sources

State Montana
Type City
Population 68876
Comments are closed.