Rapid City, SD

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Rapid City is the second-largest city in South Dakota, with a population of approximately 65,000, and is the county seat of Pennington County. Named after Rapid Creek on which the city is established, it is set against the eastern slope of the Black Hills mountain range, and accommodates most of the tourist flow to Mt. Rushmore.  Prostitution, child sex trafficking, and pimping are known to occur in the city, and to address these problems, interventions targeting demand for commercial sex have been pursued.  Rapid City law enforcement has been conducting reverse stings since 2008, and have expanded their sting operations to include web-based stings.  They have also used surveillance cameras to deter men from buying sex.  A web-based reverse sting in February, 2013 resulted in the arrest of seven johns.  All were released and ordered to appear in court.  A similar operation in October, 2012 resulted in four arrests.  Hiring for sexual activity is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.  In November, 2013 four men were arrested by the Rapid City Police Department on misdemeanor charges of attempting to solicit prostituted women over the Internet, and the names and ages of the arrested sex buyers were released.

In September 2017, seven sex buyers were cited  in an undercover online sex trafficking operation by the Rapid City Police Department.  An undercover detective initially contacted two woman who were separately advertising massage and sexual services online, and after an investigation they were arrested and charged for the offenses of prostitution, practice of massage without a license, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and a sales tax license violation.  The reverse sting portion of the operation involved detectives fielding calls responding to online posting that advertised commercial sex, arranging meetings, and arresting those who appeared and offered to buy sex. The identities of the sex buyers were publicly released.

In August 2018, six men were arrested as the result of a sex trafficking operation in the Rapid City area, which took place during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The South Dakota Attorney General’s Office worked in conjunction with law enforcement officials from Pennington County, Rapid City, Sturgis and the state Division of Criminal Investigation on the sting. The six men, ranging in age from 20 to 55, were charged with attempted enticement of a minor using the internet, which charge carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison upon conviction.

Key Partners

  • Rapid City Police Department
  • Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office

Key Sources

State South Dakota
Type City
Population 65491
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