Anoka County, MN
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Anoka County is the fourth-most-populous county in Minnesota, with a population of over 367,000. The county seat is the city of Anoka, and the largest city within the county is Blaine. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the communities and unincorporated areas of the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul metro region, including within Anoka County. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious problems associated with commercial sex in the area include child sex trafficking and violence among those in commercial sex transactions.
To combat prostitution and sex trafficking in the area, local law enforcement agencies have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex, which provides the revenue stream driving all commercial sex and trafficking. For example, in January, 2013, a web-based reverse sting operation was conducted in Coon Rapids. The operation was set up with the cooperation of the motel staff with both uniformed and plainclothes police officers involved. The five men arrested came from the Twin Cities area – Brooklyn Park, New Brighton, Eagan, Champlin and Bethel – and ranged in age from 18 to 55. They were all booked at the Anoka County Jail on gross misdemeanor prostitution charges and released after being given a court date.
In February, 2014 the Fridley PD arrested 19 male sex buyers. Officers posted a decoy advertisement on Backpage.com and set up an operation at a local hotel that cooperated in the sting. Six detectives conducted the operation– one female undercover officer posed as a prostituted woman in a room monitored by video and audio surveillance, while other officers waited in an adjacent room until deals were struck, then they arrested the men and took them to jail. All of the suspects were booked at the Anoka County jail and released.
In February 2014, the Chief of the Robbinsdale, MN Police Department was arrested in a reverse sting in Coon Rapids. In that operation, 11 sex buyers were arrested. The Chief pleaded guilty in Anoka County Court, was fined $300, and received a stay of adjudication dependent upon completing a year of probation, completing a “john school” program at Breaking Free or a similar anti-prostitution program, and meeting all other the conditions set by the court – the prostitution case on his record will be dismissed if those conditions are met.
In 2017, a Circle Pines resident was convicted for offering to pay to sexually abuse a trafficked child at a hotel in Coon Rapids. He was initially charged with a felony for offering to hire an hour of sexual abuse from a 14-year-old for $125, according to court documents. He was arrested during a sting by law enforcement at a Coon Rapids hotel in 2015. The sting was focused on those seeking to buy access to sexual abuse of minors. The man was one of the potential customers who responded to an online ad and agreed via text to pay $125 for an hour with a 14-year-old victim. When he arrived at the hotel, he had $125 in cash. The suspect maintained that he did not pay attention or realize that the person was underage and was simply coming for a massage. However, he told the undercover officer to prepare a condom when the officer asked him to bring one, according to a text message. He pleaded guilty in 2016 to a charge of hiring, offering or agreeing to hire prostitution in a public place. His conviction was deemed a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to one year of probation and fined $700. He was required to perform 20 hours of community service; 90 days in jail was stayed for successfully completing the terms of his probation. He volunteered at a food assistance program.
Sixteen people were arrested in Shakopee as part of a seven-day sex trafficking sting operation in the metro area in the days before and after the 2018 Super Bowl in Minneapolis. The Shakopee Police Department was assisted by agencies in Carver County, Chaska, Savage, Belle Plaine and New Prague. First they worked with the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension from January 26 to February 2, and then they assisted the Guardian Angels Task Force. A Shakopee home was used as part of an undercover operation. The BCA operations involved detectives posing as minors online, and the sting resulted in 36 arrests of people charged with solicitation of a minor, and seven were booked for sex trafficking or promoting prostitution. The BCA leads the inter-agency Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force, which includes personnel 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. The reverse sting also included the participation of 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.
In July, 2019 the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force led a two-day undercover operation in the Twin Cities metro area that led to the arrests of 11 people (three arrested for sex trafficking or promotion of prostitution, and 8 arrested for solicitation of a minor or solicitation of prostitution with a person under 16 years of age. In addition to the arrests, the operation led to 18 trafficking victims being recovered from trafficking situations and offered services. The Task Force conducted the operation in partnership with local agencies including the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, Isanti County Sheriff’s Office, Kanabec County Sheriff’s Office, Blaine Police Department, Bloomington Police Department, Brooklyn Park Police Department, Buffalo Police Department, Minnesota, Coon Rapids Police Department, Howard Lake Police Department, Minneapolis Police Department, City of Rochester Police Department, Saint Paul Police Department, Upper Sioux Police Department and investigators from the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office.
In March, 2023, a Coon Rapids man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his conviction in a sextortion scheme that targeted minors online. The man had previously worked as a middle school paraprofessional in special education. He pleaded guilty to two counts of production of “child pornography” (child sexual abuse materials, or CSAM), one count of enticement of a minor, and one count of interstate communications with intent to extort. He used Snapchat, Grindr, and an online gaming forum he owned and administered to carry out the scheme against children. From April 2016, through August 2021, the man used his position as the forum administrator to groom children to produce CSAM and to be sexually abused by him. The man provided the children with in-game perks, privileges, and other gifts as part of his scheme. He coerced a 13-year-old to engage in sexually explicit acts on camera, and then threatened to release those images if the child did not follow his demands. The case was the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI, the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, the Erie County, Ohio Sheriff’s Office, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and the Waterloo Regional Police Service in Ontario, Canada.
- Anoka County Sheriff’s Office
- Anoka County Jail
- Blaine Police Department
- Fridley Police Department
- Coon Rapids Police Department
- Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force
- Anoka County Sheriff’s Office
- St. Paul Police Department
- Minneapolis Police Department
- Department of Homeland Security Investigations
- Ramsey County Attorney’s Office
- Carver County Sheriff’s Office
- Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office
- Dakota County Sheriff’s Office
- Pope County Sheriff’s Office
- Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office
- Belle Plaine Police Department
- Chaska Police Department
- New Prague Police Department
- North St. Paul Police Department
- Savage Police Department
- Shakopee Police Department
- Scott County Attorney’s Office
- Washington County Attorney’s Office
Web-Based Reverse Stings:
- http://www.swnewsmedia.com/arrests-made-in-shakopee-during-super-bowl-sex-trafficking-sting (2018)
- http://www.swnewsmedia.com/four-charged-with-prostitution-after-super-bowl-sting-in-shakopee (2018)
- https://patch.com/woodbury/sex-trafficking-sting-nets-dozens-suspects-pre-super-bowl (2018)
- http://www.startribune.com/dozens-swept-up-in-pre-super-bowl-sex-trafficking-sting (2018)
- http://www.swcbulletin.com/dozens-arrested-super-bowl-sex-trafficking-sting (2018)
- https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/twin-cities-sex-trafficking-operation-results-in-11-arrests (2019)
- https://kstp.com/minnesota-twin-cities-bureau-criminal-apprehension-11-arrested-undercover-trafficking (2019)
- http://www.fox9.com/11-arrested-after-undercover-human-trafficking-operation-in-twin-cities (2019)
- https://www.hometownsource.com/local-officials-take-part-in-twin-cities-sex-trafficking-operation (2019)
Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- https://www.swnewsmedia.com/shakopee-couple-accused-prostitution-operation-neighborhood-home (2010)
- https://www.swnewsmedia.com/charged-with-prostitution-after-police-sting (2015)
- http://www.startribune.com/addicts-get-help-from-an-unusual-ally-in-shakopee-the-police/ (2016)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Witness in St. Paul Sex Case Arrested”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 14 1988.
- “Prostitute, 17, Says Pimp Was Captor; Police Arrest Woman, 22, After Internet Tip”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 20 2007.
- “Teen Prostitutes Get New Status”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, February 26 2011.
- “Runaway Girls Focus of Fight to Curb Sex Trafficking”, Park Rapids Enterprise, January 14 2013.
- “St. Paul Prostitution Ring Busted; Young, Vulnerable Girls Trafficked, Charges Say”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, April 10 2013.
- “Victims Step Forward to Help Bust St. Paul Sex-Trafficking Ring”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 10 2013.
- “Minnesota Law for Sex Trafficking Victims”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 11 2013.
- “Woodbury Woman Who Allowed Prostitution of Teen Gets Six Months in Workhouse”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, June 6 2013.
- “4 Minn. Family Members Now Convicted in Sex Trafficking Case”, CBS/WCCO-TV 4, November 20 2013.
- “In St. Paul Sex Trafficking Case, a Record 40-Year Prison Term”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, January 9 2014.
- “Man Gets Longest-Ever Sex Trafficking Sentence in MN History”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, January 9 2014.
- “Minneapolis Pimp Held 2 Women Captive at Hotel, Charges Say”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, February 7 2014.
- “Man Sentenced in Sex Trafficking Case,” Rochester Post Bulletin, November 13 2014.
- “St. Paul Prostitution Ring Busted by Runaway, 17, Police Say,” St. Paul Pioneer-Press, November 19 2014.
- “Twin Cities Sex-Trafficking Case Goes to Jury; Pair Accused of Prostituting Girl, 15,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, December 23 2014.
- “St. Paul Man Admits Role in Prostitution Ring,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, January 14 2015.
- “Two More Plead Guilty to Role in Recruiting Girl for Prostitution,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, February 13 2015.
- “Man Accused of Trafficking Girls 12, 16, in Minnesota,” Bemidji Pioneer, February 21 2015.
- “Five from St. Paul Charged in Sex Trafficking Ring,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, March 3 2015.
- “Two Charged with Hiring Minor as Prostitute,” Grand Forks Herald, April 15 2015.
- “Man who Pimped Teens in St. Paul Loses First Amendment Claim,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 13 2015.
- “St. Paul Man Charged with Prostituting Forest Lake Girl,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 23 2015.
- “Jurors Convict St. Paul Prostitution Ringleader,” Bemidji Pioneer, February 10 2016.
- “3 Twin Cities Men Cleared of Interstate Sex Trafficking; Their Convictions Were Overturned after Witness Proved Unreliable,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, March 2 2016.
- https://upnorthlive.com/msp-warns-of-impacts-of-prostitution-in-northern-michigan-communities (2018)
Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Details Emerge in Porter Killing”, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, September 5 2007.
- “Prostitute Charged in May Beating”, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, September 7 2007.
- “Porter Had Chance to Save Self, Woman Says at Sentencing; A Prostitute Who Lured Howard Porter to the House Where He Was Beaten Says the Ex-College Basketball Star and Probation Officer Stayed to Try to Help Her; The Robbery Led to His Death”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, October 14 2008.
- “Woman Found Dead Inside Towed Vehicle Was a Prostitute, Police Say”, Twin Cities City Pages, March 7 2013.
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