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Bloomington is a small city of approximately 86,000 residents, located just south of Minneapolis in Hennepin County, Minnesota. Local law enforcement agencies have reported problems with prostitution and sex trafficking in the city for several years, with activities often concentrated in and around the city’s hotels and motels. Since 2010, the Bloomington Police Department has documented cases of both extortion and robbery directly linked to prostitution transactions at these hotels, and led investigations that resulted in the arrests of individuals at Bloomington motels for child sex trafficking and exploitation. In 2020 Federal authorities filed charges against a man in Bloomington as part of a case in which police say he forced two women to work in prostitution, took their earnings, and threatened or beat them when they would not comply. In October, 2021 the man was found guilty on several charges. In September, 2022, a Minneapolis man has pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a minor. He had recruited a 14-year-old minor to engage in commercial sex acts for his benefit. The offender arranged for these commercial sexual abuse acts using online advertisements, including ads posted on Megapersonals.com, to take place at hotels. He pleaded guilty U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson to one count of sex trafficking of a minor. This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Bloomington Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, and the FBI.
To combat the consumer level demand driving all prostitution and sex traffickers, the BPD has conducted multiple reverse stings. In June 2014, officers coordinated with the St. Paul Police Department and Gerald Vick Human Trafficking Task Force to intercept individuals soliciting sex on Backpage.com. Police arranged to meet 16 people at a local hotel, wherein they were arrested and charged with prostitution-related offenses. Although the full details of the operation were not released (including the names and charges of those arrested), we do not that at least one male sex buyer was picked up during the operation. His name and arrest photo were publicized by local media outlets. In February, 2018 a Shoreview resident was convicted for offering to hire a prostituted woman at a Bloomington hotel in summer of 2017. The man was caught during a “john sweep” designed to target people who buy sexual services online. The operation was conducted by the Bloomington Police and St. Paul Police departments. An undercover woman detective placed a suggestive advertisement on backpage.com with photos of another woman. The suspect responded to the ad and came to the specified hotel. He paid $100 for half an hour of services, and was then arrested by undercover backup officers. He pleaded guilty to a charge of hiring, offering or agreeing to hire prostitution in a public place, a gross misdemeanor. He was fined $750 and sentenced to a two-year probation. In January, 2022, the Bloomington Police Department announced that 18 people had been submitted for charging in connection to a two-day operation targeting people seeking to purchase the sexual abuse of minors.
In March, 2023, Bloomington police arrested 23 men in a web-based prostitution sting. Officers from Bloomington’s Special Investigations Unit created a decoy ad for an adult featuring photos of an undercover Bloomington officer, according to a news release from the Bloomington Police Department. Police posted the ad online on multiple websites, and waited for people to respond. More than 200 people responded to the ad. The 23 men were arrested March 15 and 16 after they showed up to meet with the person they thought was prostituted. All would be charged with gross misdemeanors, and one man could face a felony charge for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. Two other sex buyers were arrested with firearms. Police from Maple Grove, Eden Prairie and Richfield worked with Bloomington, along with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office. The photos and identifiers for each arrested sex buyer were included in a law enforcement press release, and included by some local news sources.
- Bloomington Police Department
- St. Paul Police Department
- Gerald Vick Human Trafficking Task Force
- U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement
- Maple Grove Police Department
- Eden Prairie Police Department
- Richfield Police Department
- Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Disclosure of Identities:
- “Former Hospital CEO Accused Again of Soliciting Prostitution”, CBS/WCCO-TV 4, June 6 2014.
- “Sex Buyer ‘John’ Has a Name.” Shoreview Press, May 15, 2018.
- https://www.hometownsource.com/sun_current/community/bloomington/ (2021)
- https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/4-charged-in-metro-area-sex-trafficking-sting/ (2022)
- https://www.startribune.com/several-men-arrested-in-bloomington-prostitution-sting (2023)
- https://www.kare11.com/23-arrested-multi-agency-prostitution-sting-bloomington-minnesota (2023)
- https://patch.com/23-men-arrested-bloomington-prostitution-sting-chief (2023)
- https://www.kare11.com/video/news/crime/23-arrested-in-twin-cities-sex-trafficking-bust/ (2023)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Bloomington; Man Faces Prostitution Charges”, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, March 15 1994.
- “Prostitution Ring Snared 10 Teen Girls; Bloomington Man Alleged Ringleader”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, March 15 1994.
- “Bloomington Man Gets 6 Years for Sex Crimes”, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, July 20 1994.
- “Man Charged with Prostitution 13-Year-Old Girl”, St. Paul Sun, May 1 2002.
- “Megamall, Officials Criticize Article about Pimps Recruiting Girls at Mall”, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, August 13 2003.
- “Report: Pimps Recruit Girls at Megamall, Mall Seems Skeptical of Newsweek Findings”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, August 13 2003.
- “Police Dispute Magnitude of Teen Prostitution at Mall of America”, Duluth News-Tribune, August 14 2003.
- “Man Convicted of Sex Trafficking Minor in Minn.”, Minnesota Public Radio, September 16 2010.
- “Man Guilty of Using Girl, 16, for Prostitution”, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, September 17 2010.
- “Bloomington Investigation Results in Prostitution Conviction”, Bloomington Sun-Current, September 22 2010.
- “Bloomington Duo Arrested for Soliciting Prostitution”, Bloomington Sun-Current, January 20 2011.
- “28 Years for Man Who Used Girl for Prostitution”, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, March 17 2011.
- “Ex-Con Guilty of Pimping Teen Girls Online; In Retrial, Arthur J. Chappell Was Found Guilty of Sex Trafficking a Minor and Conspiracy to Make Child Porn”, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, October 26 2012.
- “Man Sentenced for Sex Trafficking a Minor, Conspiring to Produce Child Pornography”, Press Release, U.S. Attorney’s Office of Minnesota, March 22 2013.
- “Burnsville Man Gets 28-Year Term for Sex Ring Promoted on Backpage, Craigslist”, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, March 25 2013.
- “Trio Indicted in Federal Court for Prostitution”, Bloomington Sun-Current, August 30 2013.
- “Saving Bobbi, Part II: Lured by Drugs, Used by Pimps”, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, January 7 2014.
- https://www.fox9.com/man-forced-2-women-into-prostitution-beat-victim-bloomington-hote (2020)
- https://bringmethenews.com/federal-jury-finds-man-guilty-forcing-women–prostitution-bloomington-hotel (2021)
- https://www.shorenewsnetwork.com/minneapolis-man-pleads-guilty-to-child-sex-trafficking/ (2022)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Police Arrest Woman during Prostitution Sting”, St. Paul Sun, July 3 2002.
- “Bloomington Police Arrest 3 in Hotel Drug Case”, St. Paul Sun, July 31 2002.
- “Pair Arrested after Prostitution ‘Sting'”, St. Paul Sun, September 12 2002.
- “Police Raid Townhouses, Arrest Six”, St. Paul Sun, September 11 2003.
- “Two Charged in Alleged Prostitution Operation”, St. Paul Sun, October 14 2004.
- “Police Continue Investigation of Alleged Prostitution Operation”, St. Paul Sun, October 21 2004.
- “Minneapolis Cops Join Feds to Bust Sex Racket”, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, December 13 2007.
- “Accused Brothel Owner Faces Federal Charges”, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, December 15 2007.
- “Sting at Bloomington Brothel Leads to Prostitution Charges”, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, March 11 2008.
- “Crystal Man Sentenced for Role in Prostitution Ring”, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, September 11 2008.
- “Prostitute Accused in Extortion Scheme Arrested”, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, June 4 2010.
- “Widow, Escorts Testify in Coercion Plot Sentencing”, St. Paul Pioneer Press, June 24 2011.
- “Woman Sentenced in Extortion Plot Behind Suicide”, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, August 4 2011.
- “Crime; Party Crashed”, Bloomington Sun-Current, January 22 2013.
- “Crime; Worn Out Welcome”, Bloomington Sun-Current, November 25 2013.
- “Former Winona Co. Deputy Sentenced for Hiring Prostitute,” ABC/WXOW-TV 19, April 7 2016.
- https://www.swnewsmedia.com/10-charged-in-eden-prairie-police-prostitution-sting (2019)
- https://www.hometownsource.com/prostitution-investigation-ends-with-arrests-at-bloomington-hotel (2020)
Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area: