A Lyon County Sheriff’s Office audit of four legal brothels in that area indicate that many sex workers showed signs of human trafficking.

Lyon County Sheriff Al McNeil presented the findings at a Board of Commissioner’s meeting on Thursday morning. 

The sheriff’s office conducted the audit after it received eight public records requests for sex worker application data. 

McNeil said 241 sex workers were issued work cards, with the average age of 31 years old. The youngest worker was 18, and the oldest being 72.
A majority of the brothel employees live in Silver Springs or Stagecoach. 

The audit also states that a “large majority of prostitutes report instability of residences and extensive criminal records that indicate property and other quality of life type crimes. Again, these are indicators for human trafficking and sexual exploitation.” The audit said “at a minimum, 83 prostitutes” positively indicated that they were part of human trafficking.

From its findings, the sheriff’s office plans to implement several strategies, including, providing “supportive services to human trafficked survivors identified in Lyon County.” "No legal sex worker would be for sex trafficking, if anything we are morally against it," says Sheriff McNeil.

The sheriff's office also plans on working with the brothels and create a 'sex workers rights' form as part of the application process, which would include changing the minimum age for both prostitutes and customers to 21. But these changes won't come cheap. 

"Working with the sheriff to get sex workers rights provided by the sex workers as well as the sheriff will be highly beneficial as well as things to look out for," says Alice Little of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.

"If this is what Lyon County wants how do we make it work and it is going to cost," says Sheriff McNeil. 

The Sheriff's Office says to do these changes, including increased involvement with regional, local and federal law enforcement agencies to combat human trafficking and to increase detective staffing to meet the recommendations of this audit, the projected cost would be $150,000.

You can read the full audit at the bottom of this story.

ORIGINAL STORY: 

The Lyon County Sheriff's Office reports they conducted a series of brothel work card compliance checks of prostitutes with the assistance of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.

They said the prostitutes who obtained work cards were contrary to Lyon County Code and in possible violation of U.S. immigration law for the Mound House brothels, Bunny Ranch, Kit Kat Ranch and Love Ranch.

The four-month long investigation found that registration procedures were inadequate, a practice spanning multiple decades.  The practices include U.S. immigration law violations, foreign country human trafficking indicators, fraudulent statements, issuance of work cards prior to completing criminal history background checks and inability to validate out-of-state and other foreign national documents to determine identity.

Corrective procedures are being developed to better align with Lyon County Code for work card registration.

In Lyon County, all brothel employees are required to register for a work card specific to the brothel they are employed. The Lyon County Sheriff's Office is required by Lyon County Code to conduct periodic inspections to ensure compliance. These compliance check also ensure the medical certifications for prostitutes are up-to-date.

Sheriff Al McNeil released this statement:

The discovery of US immigration law violations in our legal brothel system is extremely alarming.  The ability to coerce, exploit and traffic non-US citizens into Lyon County by foreign criminal enterprises is going to be difficult to detect and deter by our limited capabilities and resources of foreign born applicants, which has caused us to develop better working partnerships with federal agencies to combat human trafficking efforts.
This is the first time we applied a task force of multiple agencies for a work card compliance check.  We already use this approach quite successfully to conduct compliance checks in other law enforcement areas, and we will give serious consideration to using this approach with future brothel compliance checks.  In addition, I want to thank the US Immigration and Custom Enforcement team for their hard work and a job well done.

(The Lyon County Sheriff's Office contributed to this report).