Prescott, AZ

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

Prescott is the county seat and largest city in Yavapai County, located in central Arizona, north of Phoenix. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of the county, since the late 1800s.  In contemporary times, 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.

The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office has conducted reverse stings to apprehend adults soliciting acts of prostitution from adults and children, within Prescott and throughout Yavapai County.In April 2014, YSCO deputies conducted a two-day investigation that resulted in the arrest of seven men who arranged to meet “and were willing to pay underage girls for sex in a Yavapai County motel room.” According to media reports, the johns responded to an online “notice” and traveled to the motel with the intention of paying an underage girl for sex. They were arrested after “they requested sex acts and handed over the money.” Following the investigation, all of the men’s names and arrest photos were distributed to the public in a press release from the YSCO.

In July 2014, two men were arrested after contacting what they thought was a minor girl through a “social networking site” and soliciting sex. Both were charged with luring a minor for sexual exploitation; one of them was also charged with child prostitution, as he allegedly “described sex acts [to the undercover officer] and offered money in exchange.”In August 2014, the YCSO conducted a third web-based anti-child prostitution investigation, netting eight men in the process. During the operation, the men allegedly “made contact [with undercover officers] in response to a notice from an internet publication” and agreed to meet what they thought were minor girls for commercial sex at a nearby motel room in Camp Verde. Seven men were arrested after they arrived at the location and made an explicit offer of money for sex with a minor; an eighth man was arrested at his home after officers served a search warrant. The john, a convicted sex offender, had “made arrangements for specific sex” with the underage girls but had not followed through with the plan. In the days following the operation, all of the arrestees’ names and mugshots were publicized in local media outlets.

In June 2015, undercover YCSO deputies apprehended four johns during a web-based reversal staged at an undisclosed motel in the county. Each of the men arrested allegedly attempted to contacted what they thought was a minor female offering prostitution (but was, in fact, a law enforcement officer) online. All of the offenders’ names and arrest photos were released to the public.In each of the aforementioned operations, the YCSO was assisted by agents with U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Arizona Department of Public Safety, Partners Against Narcotics Trafficking (PANT), and Camp Verde Marshal’s Office, as well as several nearby police departments.

In January 2018, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office again conducted an operation in conjunction with several area law enforcement agencies to combat sex trafficking.  The operation targeted buyers who willingly hire underaged girls for prostitution. After two men initiated contact in response to the online ads placed by investigators, they made arrangements to meet the decoys posing as trafficked children in a specified Yavapai County motel room. Names, other identifying details, and booking information were provided by YCSO to media outlets.  Both men were arrested for one felony count of engaging in child prostitution after soliciting what he believed was a 16-year-old for sex. One of the men detailed his request prior to arrival and offered a specific cash amount during the contact. He provided a false name during his arrest, eventually giving his true name when booked. He was released on a promise to appear pending court. The other man arranged to offer a pure bred Blue Nose pit bull puppy as payment for the sex act, and did in fact bring this dog to the motel room where he was arrested. In addition to the YCSO, the agencies involved in the operation were the Prescott Police Department, Prescott Valley Police Department, Flagstaff Police Department, Navajo County Sheriff’s Office, FBI and Department of Homeland Security Investigations.

In July 2018 the Prescott Valley Police Departments Criminal Investigations Unit in conjunction with the Arizona Department of Public Safety (Yavapai County’s Gang & Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission/GIITEM) conducted a prostitution sting which yielded three arrests of sex buyers. The three individuals arrested were identified in news releases.

Sex buyers in Prescott are sometimes arrested during investigations of crimes against real victims, rather than during reverse stings using police decoys.  For example, in February, 2019 an investigation was launched in response to a tip that prostitution was occurring within a house in Prescott.  Officers searched the house on Miller Valley Road south of Whipple Street. Officers spoke with the alleged “manager” of the illicit business, and when confronted with evidence that had previously been obtained by police, she admitted to running the illegal prostitution business. A male “client” whose name was not released was contacted at the brothel during the course of the investigation and was cited and released for engaging in prostitution, which is a misdemeanor. The woman was booked into the Yavapai County Jail on the felony charge of operating a house of prostitution, and her photo and identifiers were publicly released. Investigators said the would continue to evaluate and follow up on evidence that was seized at the scene.

Key Partners

  • Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office
  • Yavapai County Superior Court
  • Cottonwood Police Department
  • Prescott Police Department
  • Prescott Valley Police Department
  • Tempe Police Department
  • Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • Partners Against Narcotics Trafficking (PANT)
  • Camp Verde Marshal’s Office
  • FBI

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrests:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Arizona
Type City
Population 42513
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