Polk County, IA

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

Polk County, Iowa has a population of close to 500,000, and contains the city of Des Moines, which is the county seat as well as the capital city of Iowa.  Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city of Des Moines and surrounding areas of Polk County. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking.

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. For example, in March, 2015 a reverse sting conducted by the Mid-Iowa Narcotics Enforcement Task Force resulted in the arrest of 20 sex buyers. Between the hours of 12:00 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. members of the Task Force conducted the sting at a motel in Polk County. The sting was conducted in response to complaints from local business owners and citizens about suspicious activities at motels in the County. The names, ages, and home towns of the arrested men were released to the public.  The people arrested face charges involving prostitution and soliciting prostitution. The task force planned to conduct random prostitution stings throughout the rest of 2015. In March 2016, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office reported 21 people were arrested and charged in a reverse sting in the Des Moines metro area, and announced plans for the Task Force to continue the random prostitution stings throughout 2016. The identities of the arrested men were released to news outlets.

Key Partners

  • Polk County Sheriff’s Office
  • Mid-Iowa Narcotics Enforcement Task Force
  • Des Moines Police Department
State Iowa
Type County
Population 496844
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