ST. PAUL — More than three dozen people are facing possible felony charges following their arrests for attempting to solicit children for sex or for trafficking victims, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).
Investigators with the BCA-led Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force conducted a sting operation January 26 through February 3. During the sting, suspects chatted with undercover agents and investigators on several social media platforms. Investigators arrested the suspects as they arrived at an arranged meeting place for an encounter.
All were booked into the Ramsey, Scott or Washington County jails and are awaiting charges. Most are from the greater Twin Cities area.
- 36 people were booked on probable cause felony solicitation of a minor.
- 7 people were booked on probable cause sex trafficking, promotion of prostitution.
- 14 women were rescued from trafficking situations.
“This operation represents our collective commitment to eradicate sexual exploitation in our communities and to rescue those being trafficked in our state,” said BCA Superintendent Drew Evans.
The sting was part of the ongoing work of the Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force. It is led by the BCA and includes investigators from the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, the St. Paul and Minneapolis police departments, Department of Homeland Security Investigations, and the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office.
“Law enforcement, across federal, state and local agencies, work collaboratively on a daily basis to thwart this horrific crime,” said Special Agent in Charge Alex Khu of HSI St. Paul. “HSI and its partners worked tirelessly throughout Super Bowl 52, and the associated events, to identify and apprehend numerous violators and rescue victims.”
“We are proud to be working with our partners to combat this scourge in our communities. We will continue to pursue these criminals and battle this evil while we serve the victims to the best of our ability,” said Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart.
“Now that the Super Bowl is past, these arrests should serve as a stark reminder that what drives the exploitation and trafficking of vulnerable people is the demand. Notably, as shown by these arrests, the demand is a local problem and involves men from our own community who want to exploit very young girls and boys,” said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi.
Many additional agencies lent resources and expertise to this particular effort, including the Carver, Crow Wing, Dakota, Pope and Ramsey County sheriff’s offices; the Belle Plaine, Chaska, New Prague, North St. Paul, Savage and Shakopee police departments; and the Scott and Washington county attorney’s offices.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of being trafficked, call 911. To report a suspected trafficking situation, call the BCA at 877-996-6222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force
The Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force was established in September 2017 with funding from the Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs as a statewide enforcement effort to target traffickers and those exploiting children for sex.
The Task Force provides statewide law enforcement response for the Human Trafficking National Hotline. Victims can get help by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or send the text HELP to 233733.
About the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) provides investigative and specialized law enforcement services to prevent and solve crimes in partnership with law enforcement, public safety and criminal justice agencies. Services include forensic laboratory analysis, criminal histories, investigations and criminal justice training.