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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.
- Tribes United Against Sex Trafficking Task Force (TRUST)
- White Earth Police Department
- Mahnomen County Sheriff’s Office
Web-Based Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure:
- https://dps.mn.gov/Undercover-Operation-Results-in-Dozens-of-Arrests-and-Rescue-Trafficking-Victims (2019)
- https://thefanmankato.com/nearly-five-dozen-people-facing-felony-charges-for-attempting-to-solicit-children-for-sex (2019)
- https://www.swnewsmedia.com/human-trafficking-task-force-rescues-victims (2019)
- https://kdal610.com/58-arrested-in-twin-cities-trafficking-operation (2019)
- https://www.kare11.com/58-people-arrested-in-twin-cities-sex-trafficking-sting (2019)
- https://www.ice.gov/newstwin-cities-area-child-sex-trafficking-sting-nets-47-arrests (2019)
Background on Local Sex Trafficking, Prostitution:
- 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.
- “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.
- “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.
- “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.
- “Crime; Party Crashed”, Bloomington Sun-Current, January 22 2013.
- “Crime; Worn Out Welcome”, Bloomington Sun-Current, November 25 2013.
- “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.
- “Former Winona Co. Deputy Sentenced for Hiring Prostitute,” ABC/WXOW-TV 19, April 7 2016.
- http://www.fox9.com/news/2-charged-in-sex-trafficking-operation-in-edina-richfield (2017)
- https://edinazephyrus.com/bloomington-police-crack-prostitution-ring-linked-to-edina-apartments (2017)
- https://patch.com/minnesota/richfield/richfield-edina-apartments-used-prostitution-police (2018)