Edina, 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

Edina is a city with a population of about 53,000 in Hennepin County, Minnesota. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of Hennepin County. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. For example, in 2017 two men were charged for their roles in a sex trafficking operation that brought Chinese women to Edina and Richfield, Minnesota for prostitution. The men were each charged with sex trafficking, and one was also charged with promoting the prostitution of an individual and receiving profits from prostitution. Officers first discovered the sex trafficking ring when they came across a prostitution advertisement on Backpage for an Asian woman. They called the number from the advertisement and the call center gave them the location of the victim.

Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. For example, in April 2018 an Edina man was arrested in a web-based reverse sting and charged with attempting to solicit prostitution from a minor. The man answered an ad placed on Backpage.com by law enforcement offering prostitution services in November 2016, and engaged in text conversations with an undercover police officer posing as a 15-year-old girl. The man allegedly agreed to $80 for half an hour of sexual abuse, and arrived at the agreed-upon location. Officers found $80 and a cell phone on the man and confirmed that the texts were sent to and received by his phone at that time. He was charged via summons with hiring or agreeing to hire a 13- to 15-year-old for prostitution, a felony carrying a maximum 10 years and/or $20,000.

In April 2019, the Edina police department participated in a task force operation that resulted in the arrest of dozens of people who were booked on charges of felony solicitation of a minor or solicitation of prostitution under 16 years of age. The operation occurred at multiple locations in the greater Twin Cities region. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) announced that 47 people were arrested and faced felony charges for attempting to purchase access to sexually abuse children or trafficking victims. The BCA-led Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force conducted the operation in several Twin Cities communities over four days. Suspects chatted on several social media platforms with undercover agents and investigators who posed as minors or as sex buyers. Investigators arrested the suspects as they arrived at an arranged meeting place for an encounter. Suspects were booked into the Hennepin, Anoka, or Ramsey county jails and their cases were submitted for charging. The names of all arrestees were released by the BCA several days after the arrests. The 47 arrestees were booked on charges including felony solicitation of a minor or solicitation of prostitution under 16 years of age and 11 people were booked on probable cause sex trafficking, promotion of prostitution. The operation was carried out by personnel from 33 criminal justice agencies and was part of the ongoing work of the Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force. The Task Force is led by the BCA and includes investigators from the St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Buffalo police departments, the Anoka and Hennepin County sheriff’s offices, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office. Many Task Force affiliate agencies lent resources to this particular effort, including the police departments of Howard Lake, Bemidji, Blaine, Brooklyn Park, Cambridge, Coon Rapids, Duluth, Maplewood, Owatonna, Rochester, Thief River Falls, and Upper Sioux, and the sheriff’s offices of Crow Wing, Kanabec, and Pope counties. Additional agencies provided expertise and resources including the Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Edina, Oakdale, Plymouth, St. Cloud, and Woodbury police departments, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the Hennepin and Washington County attorney’s offices, and the BCA-led Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Several victim advocate organizations also provided services during victim recoveries, including Alexandria House, Breaking Free and The Link.

Key Partners

  • Tribes United Against Sex Trafficking Task Force (TRUST)
  • White Earth Police Department
  • Mahnomen County Sheriff’s Office

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Sex Trafficking, Prostitution:

State Minnesota
Type City
Population 53318
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