Pueblo is a city of roughly 110,000 residents located south of Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado. It is the county seat and the most populous city of Pueblo County. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been documented in the city. In response to complaints from residents and businesses, the Pueblo Police Department began conducting reverse stings in 2010.
In one operation in September 2012, police arrested seven sex buyers in one night. The men are processed through the Pueblo City Attorney’s Office rather than charged with a state crime and routed through the district attorney’s office. The men who plead no contest or are found guilty of violating the city’s prostitution ordinance are usually fined $300 in addition to paying a mandatory $300 fee (although the fines can reach $1,000). All offenders must also submit to mandatory STD testing. Johns can also serve up to one year in jail, but incarceration is rarely imposed. In the 2012 reverse sting, the municipal court would normally have been closed and the men ticketed and released. Instead, the city held a night session of the municipal court, so the men could be processed immediately. Three of the seven arrestees pled not guilty, and their cases were sent to trial. The remainder pled no contest, paid the fine, and were released.
In June 2014, Pueblo Police and officers from the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office conducted a street-level reverse sting in support of the FBI’s Operation Cross Country national anti-sex trafficking initiative. Twelve sex buyers were arrested during the sting; their names were not released. A 15-year-old girl was also recovered during the operation.
In October 2015, PPD officers again participated in an Operation Cross Country stings, this time overseeing anti-prostitution investigations that netted 16 individuals on charges of solicitation for prostitution. Law enforcement indicated that the operation aimed at identifying and recovering local victims of sex trafficking, and arresting those who would exploit them. No victims were reportedly found during the sting; the offenders’ names and charges, as well as the logistical details of the operation, were not publicized in press.
In 2016, police participated in another Operation Cross Country, and seven men were cited and released for soliciting prostitution. In October 2017, police engaged in two separate operations as part of a nationwide multi-agency initiative headed by the FBI targeting child sex trafficking. In May 2018, three men were issued citations for soliciting prostitution in Pueblo.
- Pueblo Police Department
- Pueblo City Attorney’s Office
- Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office
- Reverse Stings:
- 2012 Annual Report, Pueblo Police Department, 2012.
- “29 Arrested on Prostitution Charges”, Pueblo Chieftain, June 24 2014.
- “Colorado Springs Police Arrest 10 during National Child Sex Trafficking, Prostitution Crackdown”, Colorado Springs Gazette, June 25 2014.
- “Pueblo Police Arrest Six, Cite 16 in Human Trafficking Bust,” FOX/KXRM-TV 21, October 14 2015.
- https://www.chieftain.com/news/pueblo/police-work-proactively-to-address-prostitution-in-pueblo (2016)
- https://www.chieftain.com/news/pueblo/police-work-proactively-to-address-prostitution-in-pueblo (2017)
- http://www.kktv.com/content/news/3-busted prostitution sting (2018)
- https://www.fox21news.com/news/crime/three-men-cited-in-pueblo-prostitution-sting (2018)
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Prostitution Plays Part in the West”, CSU-Pueblo Today, March 13 2008.
- “Prostitutes Return to Pueblo’s Streets”, NBA/KOAA-TV 5, May 1 2009.
- “New Police Station Set to Open on Pueblo’s East Side”, NBC/KOAA-TV 5, January 29 2010.
- “New Police Substation Opens in ‘Devil’s Triangle'”, CBS/KKTV-TV 11, February 8 2010.
- “Pueblo Leaders to Discuss Prostitution Ordinance”, ABC/KRDO-TV 13, October 10 2010.
- “Pueblo Police Arrest 10 in Prostitution Crackdown”, ABC/KRDO-TV 13, July 29 2013.
- “FBI Child Sex Trafficking Sting Has Colo. Connections, Including Springs, Pueblo”, CBS/KKTV-TV 11, July 31 2013.
- https://www.chieftain.com/Police Sheriff work together on prostitution sting (2017)