St. Croix County, WI

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

St. Croix County, Wisconsin, has a population of about 95,000, and is located across the state line from the St.Paul and Minneapolis Twin Cities metropolitan area. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the communities and unincorporated areas of the county.  This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious problems associated with commercial sex in the area include child sex trafficking.St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office is one of the 40 Wisconsin agencies participating the ICAC Task Force Program, and in its enforcement efforts such as Operation Broken Heart and Operation New Hope that target offenders who engage in online enticement of children for sexual purposes, the sex trafficking of children, and child pornography. In addition to child sex trafficking, the commercial sex market in St. Croix County has also generated complaints to police from residents and businesses, and has resulted in pimps and prostituted persons committing armed robbery against sex buyers.

To combat prostitution and sex trafficking in the area, local law enforcement agencies have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex, which provides the revenue stream driving all commercial sex and trafficking. To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office has conducted web-based reverse stings targeting those who sexually exploit both adults and children.  For example, in February 2018 three sex buyers were arrested in a sting operation targeting sex trafficking in St. Croix County.  The men responded to online ads and communications with undercover police, and were seeking to pay to sexually abuse 14- and 15-year-old children. Among those arrested were two men charged with second-degree sexual assault of child, child enticement-sexual contact and using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime.

A statewide assessment by the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office found law enforcement in nearly every county in the state to report human trafficking occurring in their community. To address this problem, the Attorney General established in September 2017 the Human Trafficking Bureau within the Division of Criminal Investigation. The bureau provides a coordinated statewide strategy to identify, target, and prosecute traffickers in order to combat human trafficking and provide needed assistance to survivors. From September 2017 to January 1, 2018, the DOJ Human Trafficking Bureau conducted 23 child and adult sex trafficking investigations, arrested 15 child and adult sex traffickers; and recovered 20 adult and four child sex trafficking victims.  In addition, the Task Force has arrested six men for buying sex. The Attorney General’s Office listed the following organizations as important contributors to the success of such operations in Wisconsin: Hudson Police Department; New Richmond Police Department; River Falls Police Department; and the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office.

Key Partners

  • Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation
  • St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office
  • St. Croix County Circuit Court
  • St. Croix County District Attorney’s Office
  • Hudson Police Department
  • New Richmond Police Department
  • River Falls Police Department
  • Turningpoint for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence
State Wisconsin
Type County
Population 95044
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