Sioux Falls, SD

Tactics Used

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

Sioux Falls is a city of approximately 150,000 residents located at the crossroads of two major interstate highways (I-90 and I-29) in southeastern South Dakota. Documented cases of sex trafficking and prostitution have occurred in the city, some as part of interstate criminal operations.

In December 2013, for example, an operation was uncovered that took in homeless teen girls and gave them clean clothes, drugs, alcohol and shelter.  In exchange, an adult trafficker forced the girls to work as prostitutes out of a one-bedroom apartment just blocks from the federal courthouse in downtown Sioux Falls. The brothel was described by police as a “house of horrors,” taking in vulnerable teen girls and young women and forcing them into prostitution. At least one sex seller has also been murdered in the city.

To deter sex buyers, the Sioux Falls Police Department conducts web-based reverse stings. Activity focused on prostitution and combating demand has increased as the state’s population has grown with the Bakken oilfield boom. In one operation in 2012, two decoys plus officers in support of the decoy conducted a web-based reversal.  A local hotel collaborated with police, providing a location for the decoy, the team to meet and for arrests to take place. The department posted online ads for escort services and began getting responses within 20 minutes, receiving more than 100 text messages in responses to the ads.  Ten men arrived at the hotel, and eight were arrested and charged with “hiring for sexual activity,” a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.  The names, home towns, and ages of arrestees were released to the media.  In another web-based reversal later in 2012, five men responded to decoy ads and seven men were arrested.  The arrestees ranged in age from 23 to 64.

Another reverse sting  occurred on January 31, 2013, resulting in three arrests.  One man twice arrested for soliciting sex online was rearrested in September, 2013 for using Craigslist to buy sex while on a work release program due to a prior soliciting charge. Some of the operations have focused on arresting men attempting to buy sex from children. For example, in 2012, one operation resulted in 17 men arrested for attempting to buy sex from minors.  The names of those arrested were released to the media.

In February 2019, the Sioux Falls Police Department announced a commitment to operations intended to deter sex buyers and reduce the demand for commercial sex, as a means of reducing problems associated with prostitution and human trafficking.For example, in early 2019, Sioux Falls police posted decoy ads for commercial sex and had responses from over 100 individuals.  The police efforts are part of a comprehensive push to address sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, which includes victims service programs, and a human trafficking awareness conference occurring in early March 2019.


Key Partners

Key Sources

State South Dakota
Type City
Population 153888
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