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Minnetonka is a suburb with a population of 53,000 residents in the Minneapolis metro area, in Hennepin County. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been documented in the city for years. Among more recent examples was a prostitution ring based out of a couple’s Minnetonka home that was shut down in 2017. Months later, investigators believed that the business resumed operating in a Washington County home, directed by the couple in a Washington County jail.
Police operations targeting those who purchase sexual access to prostituted women or trafficked children have been conducted in an effort to attack the problems at their source — consumer-level demand. For example, in 2015 the Minnetonka Police Department announced that 15 adult males had been arrested for attempting to solicit sex from underaged girls in a November sting operation in Minnetonka. The operation was a collaboration with other metro area agencies, including Bloomington, Eden Prairie, St. Louis Park, and Plymouth, among other law enforcement agencies. Approximately 45 officers were involved in the operation. While similar arrests were made throughout the year, police said the November 2015 reverse sting was the largest of its kind.
In November 2016, a man was arrested for attempting to solicit prostitution from a minor. The 60-year-old man had answered an ad placed on Backpage.com by law enforcement offering prostitution services, and engaged in a text conversation with an undercover police officer posing as a 15-year-old girl. Among portions of the conversation listed in the criminal complaint was a text from the officer stating “ok…im just about 2 turn 16 and I don’t see guys over 60 so ur ok” (sic). He also asked via text where the person was located, and the undercover officer then gave a “general location” and rates. The suspect agreed to $80 for half an hour before asking for a “dirty picture,” and was given the address of a Minnetonka apartment used by police officers for such sting operations. He was arrested when he arrived, and police found $80 and a cell phone which contained the text conversation with police. In Minnesota, hiring or agreeing to hire a 13- to 15-year-old for prostitution is a felony carrying a maximum 10 years in prison and/or $20,000 fine.
- Minnetonka Police Department
Web-Based Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure:
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Region:
- http://www.fox9.com/news/charges-lake-minnetonka-prostitution-ring-recruited-women-at-bus-stops (2017)
- http://www.startribune.com/warrant-head-of-wayzata-based-prostitution-ring-still-running-operation-from-jail (2017)
- http://www.kare11.com/article/news/crime/couple-in-lake-minnetonka-home-busted-for-prostitution-ring (2017)
- http://www.swnewsmedia.com/lakeshore_weekly/news/public_safety/man-behind-sex-trafficking-operation-in-minnetonka-ricky-turner-pleads (2018)