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Sex-trafficking? Drug-laced flowers? What we found out about people selling roses at local intersections

Idaho Falls

IDAHO FALLS – You may have noticed a sudden surge in people selling roses on street corners, in parking lots and around other parts of Idaho Falls recently.

Rumors have been flying about these vendors on social media, accusing them of drugging the flowers with fentanyl or being involved in sex-trafficking rings. Facebook users have speculated after people smell the roses, they are “drugged” by powder inside. According to one Facebook post, “they use roses as a symbol for sex trafficking.”

Similar stories have been shared online for years in other parts of the country. Snopes debunked a claim in 2019 that sex traffickers were leaving roses on cars in Kentucky with a chemical on them “to make you pass out, so they can grab you.”

EastIdahoNews.com spoke with one of the women selling flowers at 17th Street and Holmes Avenue Thursday morning. She said her name was Stephanie and she, her husband and five kids are in Idaho Falls because their car broke down.

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A woman sells flowers at the corner of 17th Street and Holmes Avenue in Idaho Falls Thursday morning. | Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com

She explained she buys the flowers from Costco, purchases plastic cellophane, wraps up the roses, and sells them in hopes of raising money to fix the vehicle. She mentioned she has been in Idaho Falls “a few days” and her family hopes to be on the road to California by the end of the week.

When asked if she was being trafficked or needed help from law enforcement, she repeatedly said no. She said her family is staying in a motel and she sells the flowers for whatever a customer is willing to pay.

EastIdahoNews.com has received numerous messages about the flower sellers. Law enforcement tells us they have not received many complaints about the activity but whether or not it’s illegal falls into a gray area, and needs to be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

“Generally, if they’re just standing on the sidewalk, that’s public property. They have the right to be there just like everyone else does,” says Idaho Falls Police Department spokeswoman Jessica Clements. “But if they’re in the road, that’s a problem. There are other criteria that may so make their actions illegal. It just depends on the individual situation.”

The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office is aware of the flower sellers and has looked into the situation.

“We’ve seen them selling (roses), but we haven’t seen any evidence that they’re doing anything illegal or dangerous,” says Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Bryan Lovell. “We’ve done some research and rumors have been spread wildly over social media in a lot of different ways, but it’s unfounded.”

The Idaho Falls Police Department reminds the public, if you become concerned about someone selling things on the sidewalk, to call the non-emergency line at (208) 529-1200, and the IFPD will send out an officer to make sure that nobody is in danger and that nothing illegal is occurring.

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