Kanabec County, MN

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Kanabec County is a county in Minnesota, with a population of about 16,000. Its county seat is Mora. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the communities and in unincorporated areas of the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking.

In May, 2019 a Kanabec County jail inmate was charged with running a prostitution ring from his cell in the jail in Mora, Minn, and was charged with two counts of sex trafficking and two counts of promotion of prostitution. Members of the East Metro Sex Trafficking Task Force began investigating him after a Woodbury Police Detective discovered an online advertisement. He reached out, brokered a deal for sex in exchange for money and arranged to meet a 43-year-old woman at a hotel. A member of the task force observed a man enter the hotel room and leave about 20 minutes later. Investigators searched the room and found the woman, heroin, a cellphone and a calendar documenting commercial sex appointments and the money collected. The woman admitted that she was a commercial sex worker and served between 10 to 15 sex buyers since she had been there. The woman’s cellphone had numerous text conversations with commercial sex buyers, pictures that were used in commercial sex advertisements and thousands of text messages discussing the commercial sex operation, narcotic transactions, and ongoing fraudulent activity.  The inmate would instruct her to deposit large sums of money in his jail account so he could continue to communicate via text/telephone and purchase canteen items. The woman deposited at least $890 into his jail account in April through jailpayments.com. Also found on the phone: numerous searches for various commercial sex websites and hotel rooms around the metro area; 33 videos showing different sex acts; numerous photographs of the woman posing in lingerie that were linked to numerous commercial sex advertisements in the metro area.

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.  In July, 2019 the Kanabec County Sheriff’s Office participated in a sex trafficking sting operation led by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force. The two-day undercover operation in the Twin Cities metro area that led to the arrests of 11 people (3 arrested for sex trafficking or promotion of prostitution, and 8 arrested for solicitation of a minor or solicitation of prostitution with a person under 16 years of age). In addition to the arrests, the operation led to 18 trafficking victims being recovered from trafficking situations and offered services. The Task Force conducted the operation in partnership with local agencies including the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, Isanti County Sheriff’s Office, Kanabec County Sheriff’s Office, Blaine Police Department, Bloomington Police Department, Brooklyn Park Police Department, Buffalo Police Department, Minnesota, Coon Rapids Police Department, Howard Lake Police Department, Minneapolis Police Department, City of Rochester Police Department, Saint Paul Police Department, Upper Sioux Police Department and investigators from the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office


Key Partners

  • Kanabec County Sheriff’s Office
  • Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
    • Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force
  • Anoka County Sheriff’s Office
  • Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office
  • Blaine Police Department
  • Bloomington Police Department
  • Brooklyn Park Police Department
  • Buffalo Police Department
  • Coon Rapids Police Department
  • Howard Lake Police Department
  • Upper Sioux Police Department
  • Ramsey County Attorney’s Office
State Minnesota
Type County
Population 16024
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