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9 arrested in Clear Lake prostitution sting

"We wanted to take a stance against human trafficking and to show that we have zero tolerance for such activities in our area.”

Posted: May 30, 2019 6:28 AM
Updated: May 30, 2019 5:52 PM

CLEAR LAKE, Iowa - A prostitution sting in Clear Lake on Wednesday resulted in nine arrests.

“Investigators and officers conducted a sting operation in Clear Lake focusing on human trafficking and prostitution,” Clear Lake police captain Mike Colby said. “The goal of this operation was to identify people who are involved in this type of criminal conduct. We wanted to take a stance against human trafficking and to show that we have zero tolerance for such activities in our area.”

The following arrests were made:
- Steven Menke, age 61, Bancroft, Iowa, Solicit Prostitution
- Brian Cole, age 55, Nashua, Iowa, Solicit Prostitution
- Chad Sovanski, age 47, Milan, Illinois, Solicit Prostitution
- Phillip Bishop, age 65, Mason City, Iowa, Solicit Prostitution
- Jeramie Hagen, age 42, Crystal Lake, Iowa, Solicit Prostitution and Delivery of a Controlled Substance
- Brian Bruton, age 48, Charles City, Iowa, Solicit Prostitution
- Scott Biernbaum, age 48, Lincoln, Nebraska and Clear Lake, Iowa, Solicit Prostitution
- Mallory Wiese, age 26, Mason City, Iowa, Prostitution
- Ashley Kelly, age 22, Midland, Alabama, Prostitution

Police Captain Mike Colby tells KIMT after investigating they found this particular case is not related to human trafficking, but he says it serves as a reminder it will not be tolerated in Clear Lake.

“Especially with I-35 running through town and being a major corridor through the Midwest, we won't tolerate that stuff here,” says Colby.

When carrying out the sting operation on Wednesday, police weren't sure what they were going to find.

“We were fortunate that we didn't have anyone yesterday that was actually being victimized by someone else,” he says.

Colby says through these undercover efforts they are able to send a message and gain intelligence into potential human trafficking crimes. They are also able to get people the help they need.

“We are here to serve women in the area who are struggling with addiction or life challenges.”

Jani Dahlin is the Executive Director of ‘Living Free’ in Mason City. The non-profit helps women who are struggling, turn their lives around for the better.

“I feel like more often than not, our society immediately writes off people who are really struggling in a significant way like that because they can't identify with them,” says Dahlin.

So rather than look the other way, Dahlin connects women to resources and works to get to the root of the problem that lies within them.

“When they hear that affirmation from someone that their life is still valuable, that their life is still good, that's when you start to see that hope.”

If you or someone you know is in need of these services call: 641-423-6793

The Clear Lake Police Department was assisted by the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Office, the Division of Criminal Investigation, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, the Mason City Police Department, and the North Central Iowa Drug Task Force.

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