Wasilla, AK

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

Wasilla is a city of approximately 10,000 residents in Matanuska-Susitna Borough. It is located about 50 miles north of Anchorage, AK. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been documented in Wasilla and surrounding areas in the Mat-Su Valley. Violence against prostituted persons, drugs, and cases of targeted homicide against individuals in the commercial sex industry have been documented in the city and surrounding areas.

Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is the sex trafficking of adults and minors. For example, in November 2017 a Wasilla man was sentenced to 13 years, 10 months in prison for two counts of sex trafficking through force, fraud and coercion. During the investigation, Alaska State Troopers discovered that the defendant targeted drug addicted women and recruited them for prostitution by promising safe shelter and help getting off heroin. Instead, the women worked as prostitutes for the defendant, providing him with money and sexual favors in return for lodging, food, and drugs. Additionally, in 2017, a Wasilla man was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison, to be followed by a one-year term of supervised release, for making sexual threats online and extorting money in return. According to official documents, the defendant trolled women he met online through the Meetme.com and Kik Messenger applications. In several cases, the defendant formed online romantic relationships with women and received sexually explicit photographs from them. On at least one occasion, the defendant took the photographs he received and threatened to publish them unless the victim worked for him as a prostitute and sent to him some of the money that she earned. During the investigation, the FBI located two other women who had sent money to the defendant and three other women for whom the defendant has posted online prostitution advertisements. The investigation was a result of a multi-level collaboration between federal, state, and local agencies.

In effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex in the city, local police have participated in demand reduction operations, targeting individuals seeking to engage in commercial sex. For example, in October 2009, members of the Palmer Police Department and Wasilla Police Department collaborated with the Anchorage Police Department and FBI to conduct a web-based reverse sting. The operation placed decoy advertisements on Craigslist and other internet sites known for prostitution activity. This was part of a national push to find underage victims of prostitution or human trafficking. While no child victims were found, 10 sex buyers were arrested for soliciting prostitution. Their identities were not immediately released to the public, but were disclosed eventually.

Sex buyers and sex traffickers have also been arrested as the result of alternative investigations or residential reports to local law enforcement. For example, in early November 2019, a 51-year-old Wasilla man who was named a “person of interest” in a triple homicide investigation, pleaded to plead guilty in federal court to one count of unlawfully possessing ammunition (Felon in Possession). In late November 2019, shortly after he was taken into custody on the federal warrant, the offender was indicted by the State of Alaska, in Palmer Superior Court, on five felony counts of sexual assault and sex trafficking; two counts of first-degree sexual assault, one count of first-degree sex trafficking and two counts of third-degree assault. The homicide investigation led detectives to evidence that supported the sexual assault and sex trafficking charges. According to the affidavit, the offender raped, assaulted, and fired a gun over a woman’s head in her trailer. The sex trafficker claimed that when they engaged in sexual activity it was in exchange for money and/or drugs. The woman was also sex trafficked to other men in exchange for money and/or drugs. Despite the initial indictment, during the trial, the victim claimed she was the offender’s girlfriend and that the entire case was a misunderstanding by law enforcement,

“The sex acts described in the charging documents were consensual. She also said an event that could be interpreted as an act of domestic violence – [The sex trafficker’s] alleged firing of a weapon near the victim’s head – occurred when [he] was attempting to shoot a rabid squirrel behind [the victim].”

The sex trafficker’s identity and image were publicly released by Alaskan law enforcement and included in reports by local media outlets.

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure: 

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Commercial Sex:

Background on Sex Trafficking and Prostitution in Alaska:

State Alaska
Type City
Population 11924
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