Montrose County, CO

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

Montrose County is located in southwestern Colorado, abutting the Utah border. As of the 2020 census, its population was approximately 43,000. Prostitution activity has been well-documented within the county for years, and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies. 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. Demand reduction tactics used in the town include reverse stings and the public disclosure of sex buyer identities. For example, in March, 2017, a web-based reverse sting operation conducted by a collaboration of the Montrose Police Department, Montrose County Sheriff’s Office, and other agencies resulted in the arrest of five men on a variety of criminal charges, including: Criminal Attempt; Internet Luring; Solicitation of a “Child Prostitute” (i.e., a sex trafficking victim); Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor; “Patronizing a Child Prostitute;” and Pandering of a Child. The identities of the arrested sex buyers were publicly disclosed, and all five were booked and held in the Montrose County Jail.

In February, 2023, a multi-agency sting operation led to the arrest of a Montrose man, who is accused of arranging to pay for acts of sexual abuse with minors. He was arrested on suspicion of soliciting child prostitution and drug offenses. He had been arrested during an undercover, proactive investigation to prevent human trafficking by identifying and arresting people seeking “to solicit minors for commercial sex” and thus contribute tothe  crime of human trafficking. The man allegedly responded to an ad undercover operatives placed on a website known by law enforcement as one that was used by human traffickers and their “customers.” His arrest affidavit alleged that the man communicated with an undercover agent and arranged to pay $300 for access to sexually abuse 12-year-old and a 14-year-old girls. Multiple texts between the suspect and the agent occurred to make arrangements to meet. The man showed up near the designated meeting place and texted the agent “I’m here.” A female agent went to meet him, then returned to a nearby hotel. Officers working surveillance spotted a truck in a nearby parking lot and determined the man behind the wheel matched the suspect’s driver’s license photo. They watched the driver pull into the lot of a nearby restaurant and begin using his phone. The undercover agent received a call from the suspect’s number, and the man allegedly told the agent he wanted oral sex with the 14-year-old and agreed to pay $75 for the act, without a condom. The suspect voluntarily spoke with a Montrose County Sheriff’s Office Investigator after being advised of his rights. He allegedly admitted to arranging to “have sex with a girl” and stated she was 14, but said, although he knew it was illegal, “he did not intend to actually do it.” A local news report said that, according to state law, simply affording a person the opportunity to commit a crime is not entrapment, even if “representations or inducements” are made to overcome his or her fear of getting caught. If a person can demonstrate he or she wouldn’t have committed a crime, were it not for inducement, and that the methods used to gather evidence for prosecution of a crime created a substantial risk that he or she would engage in the crime, then entrapment could be available as a defense. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation led the operation, with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations’ Colorado Cyber Guardian Task Force, the Montrose Police Department, Montrose County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office.

Key Partners

  • Colorado Bureau of Investigation
  • Colorado State Patrol
  • Homeland Security Investigations
  • Colorado Cyber Guardian Task Force
  • Montrose Police Department
  • Montrose County Sheriff’s Office
  • 7th Judicial District Attorney’s Office
  • Delta County Sheriff’s Office
  • Delta Police Department
State Colorado
Type County
Population 43168
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