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Mankato is a city of approximately 45,000 residents, situated southwest of Minneapolis in Blue Earth, Nicollet, and Le Sueur counties in central Minnesota. Located at the juncture of U.S. Highway 14 and U.S. Highway 169, law enforcement has reported prostitution activity, as well as incidents of sex trafficking and prostitution-related robberies in the community in recent years.
In January 2015, officers with the Mankato Department of Public Safety, New Ulm Police Department, and the Blue Earth and Nicollet County Sheriff’s Offices coordinated to conduct a reverse sting targeting sex buyers. During the investigation, a “cooperating individual” placed a decoy advertisement on a website known for commercial sex sales; she then arranged to meet the men who responded to the listing at a Mankato hotel. Five sex buyers were arrested as a result; their names, ages, and hometowns were released to the public. In the days following the operation, media reported that four of the five men arrested had been served both felony and misdemeanor solicitation charges, since the hotel where they were arrested was close to a city park.
In a public statement, a representative with the Mankato DPS reported that law enforcement launched the sting as “part of a statewide effort to crack down on the sexual exploitation of women and girls,” with “the goal to eliminate the demand for prostitutes.” She added:
“Law enforcement recognizes our city and surrounding communities are not immune to this. These girls and women are being victimized by exploitation. We’re not just out to make arrests, but we’re looking to educate the community.”
In June 2015, the NCSO and Mankato law enforcement conducted a second web-based reverse sting, this time targeting individuals attempting to purchase sex from minors. Ten sex buyers were arrested as a result of the investigation, staged at a Mankato hotel. All of the men’s identities were publicized in the press. When asked about the sting by the St. Peter Herald, a NCSO representative noted:
“We were surprised by the amount of demand… Within five minutes of posting the Backpage.com online advertisement, calls came in to investigators. We stopped at 10 [sex buyers], but we could have arrested many more.”
In July 2015, at least six people were arrested in a reverse sting at a Mankato hotel. The Mankato Department of Public Safety, Blue Earth, Nicollet, and Brown County Sheriff’s Departments cooperated on the sting.
In October 2017, a Mankato man arrested in a June 2017 reverse sting was sentenced to a year of probation by the Nicollet County Court. He received a stay on a year of jail time with the probation and was ordered to serve 40 hours of community service. He was one of four people arrested during a sting in North Mankato conducted by the Nicollet County Sheriff’s Office, New Ulm Police Department, and Mankato Department of Public Safety.
- Mankato Department of Public Safety
- Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office
- Nicollet County Sheriff’s Office
- New Ulm Police Department
Web-Based Reverse Stings:
- “Mankato Police Conduct Prostitution Sting,” CBS/KEYC-TV 12, January 9 2015.
- “Mankato Prostitution Sting Snags 5 Men,” Mankato Free Press, January 9 2015.
- “Prostitution Sting Heightens Awareness of Sex Trafficking,” CBS/KEYC-TV 12, January 12 2015.
- “Prostitution Suspects Face Felony Charges,” Mankato Free Press, January 13 2015.
- “Suspects Formally Charged in Prostitution Sting,” CBS/KEYC-TV 12, January 13 2015.
- “One Man Lured into Prostitution Sting Pleads Guilty,” Mankato Free Press, January 15 2015.
- “Two Suspects Plead Guilty in Prostitution Sting,” Mankato Free Press, June 2 2015.
- “Prostitution Sting Results in 10 Charged in Nicollet County,” St. Peter Herald, June 17 2015.
Other arrests of Sex Buyers:
Sex Trafficking in the Area:
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Alleged Prostitute Nabbed,” Mankato Free Press, May 16 2009.
- “Woman Charged in Prostitution Sting,” Mankato Free Press, August 18 2009.
- “Mankato Woman Facing Prostitution Charges,” CBS/KEYC-TV 12, October 23 2009.
- “Prostitution Sting Results in Charges,” Mankato Free Press, January 12 2010.
- “Bloomington Woman Charged in Mankato Prostitution Sting,” CBS/KEYC-TV 12, March 22 2010.
- “Man Claims to Be Robbed of Sex Payment,” Mankato Free Press, January 12 2011.
- “Two Arrested on Prostitution Charges,” CBS/KEYC-TV 12, January 12 2011.
- “911 Caller Said Prostitute Failed to Deliver,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, January 14 2011.
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