Pueblo, 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

Pueblo is a city of roughly 112,000 residents located south of Denver and Colorado Springs in the U.S. state of Colorado. It is the county seat and the most populous city of Pueblo County, CO. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been documented in the county. This activity and its ancillary crimes have generated complaints from residents and businesses to local law enforcement. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking.

In response to complaints from residents and businesses, the Pueblo Police Department has been conducting reverse stings since 2010, if not earlier. For example, in one operation in September 2012, police arrested seven sex buyers within a single night. The men were 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 pleaded no contest or were found guilty of violating the city’s prostitution ordinance have usually been fined $300 in addition to paying a mandatory $300 fee (although the fines can reach $1,000). Additionally, the arrested offenders were required to submit to mandatory STD testing. In Pueblo, convicted sex buyers can face a sentencing term 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.

Some of the reverse sting operations have been known to target individuals seeking to sexually exploit minors in exchange for money. For example, in 2014, the Pueblo Police Department and the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office participated in the FBI’s annual nationwide investigation, Operation Cross Country, focused on combatting the demand for child sex trafficking. During the two-day, street-level reverse sting operation, twelve male sex buyers were arrested on charges of soliciting a prostitute. Eleven females, all adults, were arrested for prostitution. In addition, four females were arrested for being accomplices to prostitution. Only one underage contact was made during the investigation – a 15-year-old girl who had runaway from home. She was not arrested but was instead returned to her guardian.

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.

In November 2021, seven men were arrested in a web-based reverse sting targeting those seeking to purchase access to minors for sexual abuse. The men’s identities were included in press releases.

In June 12, 2021, a 71-year-old man checked into a hotel in Pueblo, expecting to meet two underage girls for paid sexual abuse. The man, a resident of Lamar, Colorado, had traveled from his home in Lamar to meet what he thought were two girls he’d been communicating with. However, when he arrived at the hotel, he was guided by one undercover police officer to his room to meet more Pueblo County Sheriff’s deputies who had set the a sting operation to catch predators like this suspect. The suspect had paid the officer $400 to meet with the victims who he believed to have been 12 and 14 years of age. Over one year after he was caught, the offender pleaded guilty to the crime with which he was charged. His sentence included no jail time; instead, he was ordered to register as a sex offender in the State of Colorado and was sentenced to four years of probation.

Key Sources

Reverse Stings:

Web Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Colorado
Type City
Population 111776
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