Weld County, CO

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

Weld County is a county in the U.S. state of Colorado located just north of Denver. The county has a population of approximately 340,000 residents and its government seat and largest city is Greeley, CO. Weld County comprises the Greeley Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the DenverAurora Combined Statistical Area. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in incorporated and unincorporated areas of the county. This activity and its ancillary crimes have generated complaints from residents and businesses to local law enforcement. Among the more serious issues associated with the area’s commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. In addition, in 2014, Greeley police officers were under investigation for the use of deadly physical force during a prostitution sting that resulted in the fatal shooting of a suspected sex buyer. According to reports, in 2014, the Greeley Police Department conducted a web-based reverse sting operation at a local hotel that resulted in the fatal shooting of a suspected sex buyer by three Greeley officers. The Weld County District Attorney’s Office conducted an investigation into the three officers for the use of deadly physical force, and upon reviewing the operation’s audio and video surveillance footage, did not press charges against any of the three officers.

To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, the Weld County Sheriff’s Office has conducted web-based reverse sting operations focused on apprehending individuals seeking to engage in commercial sex online. For example, in 2015, the Weld County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado State Patrol assisted Homeland Security Investigations with a web-based investigation focused on arresting individuals seeking to sexually exploit minors in exchange for money online. According to a special agent on the case, Operation Predator began on February 23, 2015, when an HSI agent, posing as a mother of two, posted a decoy advertisement on Backpage.com offering to sexually exploit her 11- and 14-year-old daughters in exchange for money. Less than 24 hours after posting the advertisement, undercover agents received text messages from two suspects, who each expressed interest in sexually exploiting the “girls” in exchange for money. Agents set up separate appointments with the two suspects on February 24, instructing them to meet in a motel parking lot in Longmont. After money was exchanged, agents provided the suspects with a motel room key. According to reports, both suspects attempted to flee the scene after receiving the key. However, officials pursued and arrested both offenders on charges of soliciting child prostitution (i.e., child sex trafficking) and each received $100,000 bails.

In addition to web-based reverse sting operations, additional demand reduction tactics have been employed in the county such as sex buyer arrests, loss of employment, and public education. For example, in 2015, three men were arrested on charges of soliciting child prostitution after police received a tip regarding suspected sex trafficking activity occurring at two local car dealerships. Two of the arrested offenders were owners of local car dealerships suspected of operating the child sex trafficking ring and the third offender was an alleged sex buyer. As a result of a joint investigation by the WCSO, the Greeley Police Department, and the FBI, the two car dealership owners were found to be involved in a larger child sex trafficking operation. Both were arrested on numerous felony counts related to child sex trafficking and organized crime. In addition, law enforcement officials shut down one of the offender’s car dealership. The third offender (sex buyer) was arrested on soliciting child prostitution charges. The identities and images of arrested offenders were included in reports by local media outlets.

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Employment Loss, Identity Disclosure:

Public Education:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Child Endangerment:

  • “Grandmother, Daughter Arrested for Prostitution; 2-Year-Old Was in Home”, NBC/KUSA-TV 9, May 2 2012.
  • “Greeley Mom and Grandma Arrested for Prostitution While Toddler Was Present”, KKPL-FM 99.9, May 3 2012.
  • “Greeley Neighbors Dismayed to Learn of Prostitution Arrests”, CBS/KCNC-TV 4, May 3 2012.
State Colorado
Type County
Population 340036
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