Rock Springs, WY

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

Rock Springs is a city of approximately 24,000 residents in Southwestern Wyoming. It is the largest city in Sweetwater County, WY. Prostitution and sex trafficking are well-documented in the city, generating complaints to local law enforcement. Among the more serious issues associated with the area’s commercial sex market are child sex trafficking and the targeted homicide of prostituted women. For example, in 2016, a male sex buyer stabbed two women, one fatally, at a Rock Springs hotel where he was allegedly there to engage in commercial sex with the women. 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. As a result of this incident, officials in Rock Springs have dedicated more resources to combatting the demand for commercial sex and its ancillary crimes.

In effort to reduce demand for commercial sex in the area, officers have been known to conduct both reverse sting operations. For example, in May 2016, a joint agency street-level reverse sting was conducted by 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 male sex buyers were arrested after attempting to solicit sex from an undercover female officer. All four men were incarcerated at the Sweetwater County Detention Facility. The identities and images of arrested sex buyers were included in news releases.

A similar operation occurred in June 2017, that resulted in the arrest of five male sex buyers 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 and images 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.

Officers have also conducted web-based reverse sting operations, where officers post decoy ads on websites known for commercial sex and communicate with suspected sex buyers and arrange to meet in person. Upon their arrival to the predetermined location and offering of money in exchange for sex acts, sex buyers are apprehended by undercover officers. For example, in 2015, a web-based reverse sting was conducted at a motel in north Rock Springs that resulted in the arrest of six male sex buyers. Members of the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office SNAAG (Sheriff’s Narcotics and Arrest Group) unit and county detectives arrested the six 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 addition to reverse sting operations, local law enforcement responses to prostitution locally have been those proactively seeking to find and arrest sex buyers as a result of alternative investigations or tips from community members. For example, in November 2015, the Rock Springs Police Department Street Crimes Unit received a tip that there may be illegal prostitution activity occurring at a local motel. Rock Springs 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 engaging in commercial sex, and officers made contact with three suspected male sex buyers, who were then arrested on a variety of charges including Soliciting Prostitution.

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:

Public Education:

Background on Local Sex Trafficking and Prostitution

State Wyoming
Type City
Population 23238
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