Tea, SD

Tactics Used

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

Tea is a city of roughly 5,400 residents in Lincoln County, South Dakota.  It is a suburb of Sioux Falls. Prostitution activity have been well-documented within the town, and throughout the Sioux Falls region. 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 crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking.  For example, in 2009, a Tea couple was accused of using their home as a base for an underage sex trafficking operation. They were accused in federal court of conspiring to sell the services of at least three children for prostitution through online ads. The arrests of the couple came after a six-month investigation initiated by a tip to local police. The investigation included the FBI, the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Department. In October 2019, two Tea residents were arrested in Sioux Falls on prostitution and pimping charges.  Police responded to an internet ad and planned to meet with the people at a local hotel. Officers arrested a woman on prostitution and a man on pimping charges. There was no evidence of human trafficking because it appeared the two were in a relationship and had an agreement to share the money.

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. For example, in November 2010, one man charged with paying for sex in a Tea-based Internet prostitution ring reached a plea agreement. A Sioux Falls doctor agreed to plead guilty to one count of distribution of a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. Prosecutors dropped other charges as part of the plea agreement. The drug count stems from prescriptions for Oxycontin that the doctor wrote for the man who operated the ring.  The original charges accused the man of paying for sex with underage girls and writing an Oxycontin prescription for a Tea resident indicted in a sex ring involving children. The man had plead not guilty in August in federal court to child sex trafficking charges and drug counts.


Key Partners

  • Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office
  • Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Department
  • Sioux Falls Police Department
  • FBI
  • South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms

Key Sources

Arrest and Shaming of Online Sex Buyer:

Background on Local Sex Trafficking:


Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Region:

Background on Prostitution in the Region:



State South Dakota
Type City
Population 5446
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