Sioux City, IA

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

Sioux City has approximately 86,000 residents, and is located in western Iowa along the Nebraska border, north of Omaha and south of Sioux Falls along Interstate 29. Prostitution has been a well documented problem in the city for decades, and residents have complained to police about the wide range of problems it poses in their neighborhoods. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking. Prostitution related violence – including male sex buyers who were shot and killed – have also occurred within the county.

In response to such crimes, police have adopted tactics that target the underlying consumer demand for commercial sex. To this end, the Sioux City Police Department began conducting street-level reverse stings in January 1983. The first operation resulted in the arrest of five sex buyers. More recently, in February 2015, 15 men were arrested during a “reverse sweep” in the city. SCPD officers did not disclose details about the investigation, but noted that the department conducts periodic reversals to reduce demand. He added that most sweeps result in fewer arrests, typically about five male sex buyers from each operation. In the days following the February 2015 sting, the men’s names and hometowns were publicized by local media outlets. In 2017, an undercover prostitution sting led to the arrest of four male sex buyers at a Sioux City hotel.  A woman police officer posed as a prostituted person and advertisements were placed on several websites known for facilitating prostitution and sex trafficking.

Not all arrests of sex buyers are the result of proactive sting operations using undercover officers, but are instead the result of investigations about allegations of offenses against real victims.  For example, in June, 2021, a man was arrested for soliciting prostitution from a victim he previously sexually assaulted as a juvenile. According to court documents, the man from Sioux City messaged the woman, soliciting sex. The victim had been abused by the man in 2004 as a juvenile, documents state. Due to this previous sexually abusive crimes, he had been placed on the sex offender registry list for life. The offender was now charged with third-degree harassment, a serious misdemeanor, and soliciting prostitution, an aggravated misdemeanor. He was booked into the Woodbury County Jail on a $3,000 bond. His identity was publicly disclosed.

In January, 2023, a local teen allegedly informed school staff of an incident that occurred involving a man asking her for sex in exchange for money and a cell phone. A complaint was filed by the Sioux City Police Department describing a man allegedly traveling on West 19 Street at 8 a.m. when he passed a 16-year-old walking on the side of the road. The man turned around and stopped on Everett Street. He allegedly told the girl to get in his vehicle and grabbed her by the wrist.  The victim told police that she was scared and complied with his demands to get in the car, but she indicated that she didn’t want to. He allegedly asked for “sexual things” in exchange for money and a cell phone. She told him no and he drove her to a nearby school where he then offered $50. She told him no and he allowed her to get out of the vehicle. The victim ran inside the school and sought help from the staff.  The man was arrested the following day and held on a $5,000 bond. He was charged with one count of prostitution and was issued a no-contact order.  His identity was included in news reports.

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

  • “Nebraskans Say Law Helps to Control Teen Prostitution,” Omaha World-Herald, March 22 1985.
  • “Task Force Cites Big Prostitution Ring,” Spencer Daily Reporter, August 22 1985.
  • “Citizens Group Urges Tougher Laws To End Teen-age Prostitution,” Omaha World-Herald, September 26 1985.
  • “Teen-age Prostitutes Keep a Low Profile in Omaha,” Omaha World-Herald, September 29 1985.
  • “Rumor Places Prostitution Ring in Other Cities,” Omaha World-Herald, October 10 1985.

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

  • “Police Target Cook Park Prostitutes,” Sioux City Journal, August 12 1997.
  • “New Ordinance Would Establish Licensing Requirements and Regulations for Sexually-Oriented Businesses in Sioux City,” Sioux City Journal, December 7 2004.
  • “Police Arrest Seven in Prostitution Sting,” Sioux City Journal, July 23 2005.
  • “Cracking Down,” Sioux City Journal, July 27 2005.
  • “Prostitution Arrest Made at Sioux City Massage Business,” Sioux City Journal, November 30 2011.
  • “Arraignment Set in Massage Business Prostitution Case,” Sioux City Journal, December 1 2011.
  • “Crime Watch: Masseuse Arrested for Soliciting Undercover Officer, Police Say,” Sioux City Journal, December 1 2011.
  • “Sioux City Massage Parlor Case Dismissed,” Sioux City Journal, June 19 2012.
  • “State Suspends Sioux City Massage Therapists’ Licenses,” Sioux City Journal, April 30 2013.
  • “Couple Arrested for Pimping, Prostitution,” Sioux City Journal, April 4 2016.

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Iowa
Type City
Population 85617
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