Dakota County contains the southeast metropolitan area of St. Paul, Minnesota and has a population near 400,000. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity in the county are well-documented. For example, in January 2013 a man was charged with allegedly prostituting 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 the significant 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 to pursue johns. 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, 300 33rd St. W. in Hastings. The sting was part of Operation Guardian Angel, a project started in 2014 to target people who try to buy sex from 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 for those looking for sex with 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.
- Dakota County Sheriff’s Office
- Dakota County Attorney’s Office
- Burnsville Police Department
- Reverse stings:
- Web Stings and Shaming:
- Background about prostitution and sex trafficking in the area: