West Des Moines, IA

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

West Des Moines is a city of approximately 70,000 residents, situated in the suburbs of Des Moines in Polk, Dallas and Warren counties, Iowa. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city and surrounding areas. 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.

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. On at least two occasions, local law enforcement have taken proactive steps to reduce demand for prostitution in the community. In early 2009, 13 men were arrested during a prostitution sting led by West Des Moines Police Department officers and staged at a local hotel. The johns were reportedly arrested after soliciting a police informant who had posted online advertisements suggesting prostitution. Media outlets indicated that the sting had been initiated in response to community complaints; all of the arrestees’ names and other identifying information was publicized in press.

In early March 2016, law enforcement staged a second reversal, this time netting 17 male sex buyers (and four women allegedly being sold for sex) at a West Des Moines hotel. The operation was a collaborative effort involving “nearly two dozen [law enforcement] agencies” and overseen by the Mid-Iowa Narcotics Enforcement Task Force. Logistical details about the operation were not reported; again, all arrestees’ names were released to the public.

Key Partners

  • Mid-Iowa Narcotics Enforcement Task Force
  • West Des Moines Police Department

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Reverse Stings (Mode Unclear), Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Prostitution, Sex Trafficking:

State Iowa
Type City
Population 69792
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