Bemidji, MN

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Bemidji is a city of about 15,000 residents, located in Minnesota’s Beltrami County, roughly halfway between Duluth and Grand Forks, North Dakota. The city abuts the Red Lake Indian Reservation, White Earth Indian Reservation, and Leech Lake Indian Reservation.

Although reports of prostitution in the community remain limited, local law enforcement have initiated investigations targeting sex buyers. For example, in 2014 a Bemidji man was arrested and later sentenced to jail time for soliciting prostitution at a Walmart store, after he approached multiple women and offered to pay them for sex.

Reverse stings have also been conducted in the city. In March 2015, officers with the Bemidji Police Department, Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force, Minneapolis Police Department, and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension placed decoy listings to an “online escort service” suggesting acts of prostitution with 15- and 18-year-old girls. Undercover officers then fielded text messages from several men who responded to the listing. Four sex buyers were arrested as a result; two were charged with solicitation of prostitution from an adult female (a misdemeanor), and two were charged with “engaging in electronic communication relating or describing sexual conduct with child,” a felony. All of the men’s names were publicized by media outlets. In the days following the sting, a BPD representative reported to Minnesota Public Radio that the operation was “the first of its kind” for the department.

In June 2021, six men were arrested during a human trafficking operation that took place over two days in Beltrami County. The Bemidji Police Department was among the collaborating agencies. During the operation, suspects responded to an ad on a sex advertisement website. Investigators arrested the suspects as they arrived at an arranged meeting place for a prostitution crime. All were booked into the Beltrami County Jail on probable cause solicitation of prostitution of an adult. Investigators with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA)-led Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force led the operation in partnership with the Tribes United Against Sex Trafficking (TRUST) Task Force, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bemidji Police Department. The Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force was established in 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.

Key Partners

  • Bemidji Police Department
  • Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office
  • Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force
  • Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force
  • Minneapolis Police Department
  • Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension

Key Sources

Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Minnesota
Type City
Population 15279
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