Scottsbluff is a city located in Southwestern Nebraska, near the Wyoming border in Scotts Bluff County. Authorities at local, state and Federal levels have identified the city’s proximity to Interstate 80 (specifically, located on highway connecting Interstate’s 25 and 80) to be the primary factor in the level of prostitution and sex traficking activity. Traffickers generally operate along Interstate 80 and in larger cities, although their reach extends statewide. Reports have identified major trafficking hotspots in Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island, North Platte, Scottsbluff and surrounding communities, wich much of the activity in smaller cities occurring at numerous truck stops. According to the human trafficking coordinator for the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, “Even if you just followed the major interstate system all the way from Omaha out through Scottsbluff, there is measurable sex trafficking that occurs virtually all the time. Particularly during major events, but all the time, across all of Nebraska.” Former FBI agent Anna Brewer investigated trafficking cases for more than 20 years, including work out of the Omaha-area office, said the Interstate drives trafficking in Nebraska because “… they can just stop at a rest stop, knowing that they don’t have to move, that the business is going to come to them… Again, with cellphones or smartphones, all the buyer has to do is look on his phone for particular cities, state, rest stop, exit, and see if there’s a person for sale.” In one case, investigators allege two women had recruited a victim in Arkansas, brought her to central Nebraska, advertised her on Backpage and sold her for sex at a motel near a truck stop in the area.
In January, 2021 three individuals were arrested following a multi-agency sex trafficking investigation last month in Scotts Bluff County following the execution of multiple search warrants in Scottsbluff and Gering. One man was arraigned in District Court on on two counts of Sex Trafficking, and one count of 1st Degree Forcible Sexual Assault- all Class 2 Felonies. The others were charged with Sex Trafficking, two counts of Possession of a Short Rifle, and Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person, and Possession of Methamphetamine.
To address consumer-level demand that drives both prostitution and sex trafficking markets, at least one web-based reverse sting has been conducted in Scottsbluff, resulting in four men being arrested on prostitution and sex trafficking charges in December, 2017. The Scottsbluff Police Department and the Panhandle Regional Team of the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force conducted an investigation of subjects interested in purchasing sex from adult and minor females. Four men responded to online advertisements and exchanged text messages with investigators before meeting undercover officers under the pretense of paying for sex acts. Two men replied to an advertisement and each allegedly agreed to pay $300 to have intercourse with a 15-year-old girl and her mother. Under an amended Nebraska sex trafficking law (LB289), those who solicit minors for sex can be prosecuted as “traffickers”, the penalty for which is 20 years to life imprisonment. The other two men responded to ads indicating that the person selling sex was an adult, and each were charge with solicitation of prostitution, Class I misdemeanor. The names and dates of birth of the four men were publicly released. The investigation was a collaborative effort of nine different agencies including the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, the Scotts Bluff County Attorney’s Office, the Salvation Army, the Nebraska State Patrol, the Scottsbluff Police Department, the Gering Police Department, the Scotts Bluff County Sheriff’s Office, the Sidney Police Department and the Alliance Police Department.
- Scottsbluff Police Department
- Scottsbluff County Sheriff’s Office
- Nebraska Attorney General’s Office
- Nebraska Human Traffickng Task Force
- Scottsbluff County Attorney’s Office
- Salvation Army
- Nebraska State Patrol
- Sidney Police Department
- Alliance Police Department
- Gering Police Department
Web-Based Reverse Sting and Shaming:
Background on Local Sex Trafficking and Prostitution:
- http://netnebraska.org/article/news/1027545/sex-trafficking-happens-nebraskas-smaller-towns (2018)
- https://kneb.com/regional-news/men-arrested-in-january-sex-trafficking-investigation-have-cases-bound-to-district/ (2021)