Maple Grove, 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

Maple Grove is a city in Hennepin County, Minnesota. It is within the broader Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area, with a population of approximately 70,000. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity has been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious problems associated with commercial sex in the area include child sex trafficking. For example, in June 2017, a Maple Grove restaurant owner was arrested and charged with “assisting in a sex trafficking operation”, which police found stretched across the United States. The criminal enterprise brought women from China to New York, then transported them to Hennepin County for prostitution.

To combat prostitution and sex trafficking in the area, local law enforcement agencies have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex, which provides the revenue stream driving all commercial sex and trafficking. For example, in 2016, a man was arrested in Maple Grove and later convicted for agreeing to pay to sexually abuse someone he believed was under age 18. The man had responded to a juvenile escort ad placed online by undercover officers. They informed him the prostituted person was 16 years old and the suspect still requested sexual services. Officers gave the man an apartment address in Maple Grove, and when he arrived he was subsequently arrested. A forensic analysis of his phone confirmed he was the one communicating with undercover officers. He was charged with a felony and pled guilty. He was convicted of a gross misdemeanor and sentenced to a two-year probation. He was given 60 days in the workhouse, with 305 days stayed if he successfully completes his probation terms. He was fined $3,300 with $2,300 of it stayed. He was also required to receive therapy and undergo a psychosexual evaluation.

In 2015, another man was arrested in a web-based reverse sting in Maple Grove, for offering to hire a 15-year-old girl for sex. The man responded to an online ad on posted by undercover officers. The man asked via text, how much it would cost for a certain type of sex. The undercover officer responded that it would cost $120 per hour, and stated she was “almost 16.” When the suspect arrived at the indicated address in Maple Grove, he had $120 in cash. Initially, the man maintained that he was innocent of all charges, but he later pled guilty. In an interview with law enforcement, he had admitted he agreed to pay $120 for sex from a girl who identified as being 15 years old. He was convicted in 2017 of a misdemeanor and sentenced to two years of probation. He was required to perform 15 days of service or spend 60 days in the workhouse. He completed 15 days of service. He was also required to receive a psychological evaluation and counseling, attend a sex offender program, prohibited to own any sexually explicit material, and not allowed any unsupervised contact with minor females except relatives. He was fined $200.

In March 2021, a man was arrested in an undercover sting operation conducted by the Maple Grove Police Department that focused on the electronic solicitation of minors. The 70-year-old defendant was charged with one count of prostitution hiring/agreeing to hire an individual believed to be between the ages of 13 and 16, to engage in sexual contact. Officers placed numerous advertisements online on websites known to be used by individuals engaging in prostitution. One of those individuals responding to the ads was allegedly a 70-year-old man, who engaged in a text conversation with an undercover officer posing as a 15-year-old girl. The criminal complaint stated that the suspect and the undercover officer exchanged information relating to their future encounter. When the undercover officer stated that she was under 20 and asked if 15 was okay, the suspect stated it was fine. They agreed on the price and a time and place to meet. The man went to a park in Maple Grove as instructed by the officer, was arrested, and was positively identified. The arresting officer also called the phone that the text messages originated from and determined it was the phone found on the suspect. In a post-Miranda statement, the man admitted to texting someone he believed was 15 and agreeing to pay for sex.  If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison for this felony charge and/or up to a $20,000 fine.

In June 2021, another web-based reverse sting was conducted in Maple Grove that focused on those seeking to purchase access to sexually assault minors. While working undercover, Maple Grove Police and other local agencies arrested two people on suspicion of prostitution with the intent to hire a minor between the ages of 13 and 16.  According to the criminal complaint, officers from several jurisdictions conducted a joint operation investigating the possible electronic solicitation of minors. Officers placed numerous advertisements in online publications known to be used by individuals engaged in prostitution. Two of those individuals responded to the ads and engaged in text conversations with an undercover officer posing as a 15-year-old girl. They asked the undercover officer about acts of sexual abuse that could be purchased and agreed to a price and where to meet. Both men drove to the Maple Grove location agreed upon with the undercover officer and were apprehended by officers. Both phones were confirmed to be the phones texting the undercover officer. Their charges were felonies, and the maximum sentence, if convicted, would be 10 years in prison and/or a $6,000 to $20,000 fine.

In March, 2023, Maple Grove police played a role in a large sting operation targeting the demand for sex trafficking in Bloomington. A  Maple Grove officer worked undercover to help carry out the sting. Eden Prairie and Minnetonka police were also involved. Local police said sex trafficking is an issue that impacts cities like Maple Grove and Plymouth due to having interstate access and lots of hotels. They also say the sexually exploited persons are often young victims coerced and manipulated into the trade. Maple Grove police said they utilize Cornerstone, a local advocacy agency, as well as Safe Harbor Minnesota, a statewide program, to provide assistance to sex trade victims. Carrying out the arrests also can be dangerous: several of the men arrested in the latest sting had guns, some of whom were prohibited from possessing weapons.

Key Partners

  • Maple Grove Police Department
  • Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office


Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Prostitution, Sex Trafficking, Related Weapons Offenses, Other Crimes:

State Minnesota
Type City
Population 70253
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