Wheat Ridge, 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

The City of Wheat Ridge is a home rule municipality located in Jefferson County, Colorado and has a population of approximately 33,000 residents. Wheat Ridge is located immediately west of Denver and is a part of the DenverAuroraLakewood Metropolitan Statistical Area. Due to its close proximity to Denver, instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the city and surrounding areas. Among the more serious crimes associated with the city’s commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. For example, in 2012, the Wheat Ridge Police Department alerted the Colorado Attorney General’s Office of what officers referred to as “a child-prostitution ring” occurring online through Backpage.com. The tip to the AG’s Office resulted in the indictment of 14 individuals on child sex trafficking charges in Colorado.

To combat consumer-level demand for commercial sex, the Wheat Ridge Police Department has conducted several reverse sting operations. For example, in 1993, the Lakewood Police Department conducted a street-level reverse sting operation in coordination with the Wheat Ridge Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office that resulted in the arrest of 38 male sex buyers on charges of soliciting prostitution. Interactions between undercover policewomen and suspected sex buyers were recorded and videotaped. In addition to street-level reverse stings, the WRPD has also participated in web-based reverse sting operations. For example, in 2013, the WRPD participated in the FBI’s annual investigation, Operation Cross Country VII, a three-day enforcement action to address commercial child sex trafficking throughout the United States. The operation consisted of the FBI, its local, state, and federal law enforcement partners, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). The operation included enforcement actions in 76 cities across 47 FBI divisions nationwide and led to the recovery of more than 105 child sex trafficking victims and the arrest of 150 sex traffickers/pimps on state and federal charges. In Colorado/Wyoming, the operation resulted in the recovery of nine child sex trafficking victims, identification of 11 and arrest of six sex traffickers/pimps, citation/arrest of 51 adults on prostitution charges, arrest of 25 male sex buyers, six additional adult arrests, and the impoundment/seizure of 20 vehicles.

In April 2016, a federal web-based reverse sting operation focused on targeting the demand for prostitution and sex trafficking during World Cannabis Week in Colorado, resulted in the recovery of five child sex trafficking victims, arrest of nine sex traffickers/pimps, and 26 prostitution-related arrests. The sex trafficking operations were conducted across the Denver Metro area and along the Front Range during the week of April 18 due to the influx of tourists that the state experiences during large-scale events, which have also been demonstrated to increase the demand for commercial sex during these events. According to research conducted by FBI personnel, before and after World Cannabis Week in 2015, researchers noted a 35 percent increase in the number of online escort postings, in addition to nearly 40 percent of escorts reportedly traveled to Colorado for the event. The Wheat Ridge Police Department was amongst the 20 participating local, state, and federal agencies.

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Street-Level Reverse Stings:

Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking: 

State Colorado
Type City
Population 32722
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