Rock Springs is a city in Sweetwater County, Wyoming, and has a population of roughly 23,000. Prostitution and sex trafficking are well-documented in the city, generating complaints to police and in some instances, involving child sex trafficking and the murder of women engaged in prostitution. For example, in 2016 a man stabbed two women, one fatally, at a Rock Springs hotel where he was there seeking to buy sexual services, according to charging documents. The man was arrested and charged with first-degree felony murder for the slaying of one woman, as well as first-degree attempted murder for stabbing the second woman. The man found an advertisement offering “full service” for $300 at the hotel in Rock Springs. He arrived about 1 a.m. and went to the room the ad listed, and forced his way in and attacked the two women.
Among the law enforcement responses to prostitution locally have been those proactively seeking to find and arrest sex buyers. In November, 2015, the Rock Springs Police Department Street Crimes Unit received a tip that there may be illegal prostitution activity occurring at motel located on Commercial Way. Local detectives along with Wyoming Highway Patrol Troopers responded, and observed multiple individuals entering and later exiting a motel room. Further investigation revealed that a woman from Las Vegas was committing acts of prostitution, and officers made contact with three males suspected of being “customers” who were subsequently arrested on a variety of charges including Soliciting Prostitution, under Wyoming State Statute.
Also in 2015, a web-based reverse sting was conducted at a motel in north Rock Springs. Members of the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office SNAAG (Sheriff’s Narcotics and Arrest Group) unit and county detectives arrested the men and charged them with soliciting an act of prostitution, after each had contacted a female undercover operative on the Internet, then solicited her to perform sex acts for money. Soliciting an act of prostitution is a misdemeanor in Wyoming that carries a maximum possible penalty of not more than six months imprisonment, a $750 fine, or both.
In May 2016, a joint agency prostitution suppression operation was conducted by Detectives, Deputies and Officers of the Rock Springs Police Department Street Crimes Unit (SCU) and the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office Sheriff’s Narcotics and Arrest Group (SNAAG). As a result of the operation, four men were arrested for trying to buy sex from an undercover decoy. All four men were incarcerated at the Sweetwater County Detention Facility. The identities of the four men were included in news releases.
An undercover sting operation in Rock Springs in June, 2017 led to the arrest of five men for soliciting prostitution. Detectives from the Street Crimes Unit and Patrol officers from the Rock Springs Police Department conducted two separate operations targeting individuals who were soliciting an act of prostitution. The identities of the five men were included in news releases. The RSPD Street Crimes Unit has been focusing more on reducing prostitution in the City of Rock Springs since the violence that occurred early in the summer of 2016. Multiple operations have been conducted since that time and more are expected in the future.
- Rock Springs Police Department
- Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office Sheriff’s Narcotics and Arrest Group
- Wyoming Highway Patrol
Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- http://www.sweetwaternow.com/rock-springs-detectives-prostitution-investigation-ends-multiple-arrests/ (2015)
- http://1360krkk.com/vice-operation-nets-six-arrests-in-rock-springs/ (2015)
- http://96kqsw.com/four-arrested-for-solicitation-of-prostitution/ (2016)
- https://wyo4news.com/news/five-men-arrested-soliciting-act-prostitution/ (2017)
- http://www.rocketminer.com/news/multiple-men-arrested-in-prostitution-stings/article (2017)
Background on Local Sex Trafficking and Prostitution
- http://people.com/archive/wyoming-mountain-town-is-shocked-by-the-death-of-a-good-cop (1978)
- https://www.denverpost.com/boomtown-rock-springs-wyo/ (2005)
- http://kgab.com/prostitution-probe-leads-to-rock-springs-meth-bust/ (2016)
- http://archive.sltrib.com/article (2016)
- https://www.ksl.com/draper-man-charged-with-murdering-utah-woman-in-wyoming-motel (2016)
- https://county17.com/2020/10/29/part-iii-grooming-victim/ (2020)