Dakota County, 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

Dakota County contains the southeast metropolitan area of St. Paul, Minnesota and has a population of about 442,000 residents. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity in the county are well-documented. For example, in January 2013 a man was charged with allegedly trafficking a 16-year-old girl and 17-year-old girls. The recruitment of these girls took place in Minneapolis, as did some of the criminal acts, and the case was prosecuted in Ramsey County because most of the trafficking took place there and in Dakota County. The case was a joint effort of the Minneapolis Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations.

Since about 2014-2015, many towns in the county, such as Burnsville, have conducted web-based reverse stings using Craigslist or Backpage.com to pursue sex buyers. Names, ages, and hometowns of those arrested are released to the media. Those charged with prostitution are subject to fines, jail time, or vehicle seizures. For example, in September 2015, a Dakota County web-based reverse sting took place at the Country Inn Hotel in Hastings. The sting was part of Operation Guardian Angel, a project started in 2014 to target people who try to buy access to sexually abuse minors. It was led by the Minneapolis Police Department, and St. Paul police, Homeland Security Investigations, the Hastings Police Department, and county agencies were involved. Undercover officers posted ads on Craigslist and Backpage posing as 13- to 17-year-old girls. The suspects would respond through text message to arrange meetings with the girls. Six men were arrested and were charged with felonies for hiring a prostitute between the ages of 13 and 17, and their identities were disclosed to the public.

Key Partners

  • Dakota County Sheriff’s Office
  • Dakota County Attorney’s Office
  • Burnsville Police Department
State Minnesota
Type County
Population 442038
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