Vilas 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

Vilas County, Wisconsin has a population of approximately 23,500, and its county seat is the city of Eagle River. The county partly overlaps the reservation of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented throughout 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.

To combat prostitution and sex trafficking, local law enforcement agencies have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex, which provides the revenue stream driving all commercial sex and trafficking.  For example, in July and August 2017, the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office and the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation Human Trafficking Bureau agents, with the aid of more than a dozen local and federal law enforcement agencies, conducted a web-based reverse sting.  Arrested were 25 individuals charged as sex traffickers, sex buyers, and child abusers.  The Vilas County Sheriff’s Department and Eagle River Police Department were among 18 local law enforcement agencies assisting the state and federal investigators. Thirteen Vilas County men were among the 25 arrests statewide. Those arrested were charged with soliciting a prostitute, pandering, soliciting a child for prostitution, attempted second degree sexual assault of a child, child enticement, using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, exposing a child to harmful material, and exposing a child to harmful narrations.  The official press release about the operation included the names, photos and charges facing each man.

Key Partners

  • Vilas County Sheriff’s Department
  • Eagle River Police Department
  • Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office
  • Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation Human Trafficking Bureau
State Wisconsin
Type County
Population 23520
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