Nicollet County, MN
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Nicollet County is a county in the U.S. state of Minnesota. As of the 2020 census, the population was just over 34,000. Its county seat is St. Peter. Nicollet County is part of the Mankato–North Mankato, MN Metropolitan Statistical Area. Prostitution activity have been well-documented within 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.
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 June, 2015, prompted by heightened concerns regarding human trafficking, a joint law enforcement effort charged 10 men with soliciting prostitution stemming from a sting operation at a Mankato hotel located in Nicollet County. Two men faced felony charges for offering to pay for sexual abuse of a female under 18 years old. The other eight men faced gross misdemeanor charges as “prostitution patrons” for offering to pay for sex services after connecting through ads placed on Backpage.com. The two men facing felony charges for offering to pay for sexual abuse of a female less than 18 years of age, as well as second gross misdemeanor charges of soliciting prostitution, were identified in news reports. The other eight men faced gross misdemeanor charges, and their identities were included in news reports.
Investigators from the Nicollet County Sheriff’s Office, New Ulm Police Department and the Mankato Department of Public Safety conducted a reverse sting in Nicollet County in June of 2017, and made four arrests. The charges range from soliciting prostitution to narcotics violations. The names, ages, and arrest information were made available when the criminal complaints were completed. The soliciting charge carries a maximum of a year in jail, a $3,000 fine, or both. In October 2017, one of the men arrested in the June 2017 reverse sting was sentenced to a year probation from Nicollet County Court. He received a stay on a year of jail time with the probation, and was also 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. For example, in May, 2019 five male sex buyers were arrested during a prostitution sting conducted at a hotel in Nicollet County, and their identities were released. The Nicollet County Sheriff’s Office, Mankato Public Safety, New Ulm Police and the Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force all assisted with the investigation.
Agencies participating in the sting had been trained in conducting prostitution and human trafficking investigations. The stings were made possible by grant funding from the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and the Office of Justice Programs to Nicollet, Brown, and Blue Earth Counties, and more than 116 arrests have been made during the operations from 2015-2019. The investigations were part of the “Minnesota girls are not for sale” campaign that was taking place statewide.
- Nicollet County Sheriff’s Office
- New Ulm Police Department
- Mankato Department of Public Safety
- Women’s Foundation of Minnesota
- Office of Justice Programs, USDOJ
- Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force
Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure, Community Service:
- http://www.southernminn.com/st_peter_herald/news/ (2017)
- http://www.keyc.com/story//mankato-man-sentenced-on-prostitution-charge (2017)
- https://www.keyc.com/9 people-charged-solicitation-prostitution/ (2019)
- http://knuj.net/charges-filed-in-prostitution-sting-in-nicollet-county/ (2019)
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.southernminn.com/10-charged-in-nicollet-county-prostitution-sting (2015)
- https://www.nujournal.com/prostitution-sting-nets-six-suspects/ (2019)
- https://www.keyc.com/2019/07/09/people-charged-solicitation-prostitution/ (2019)
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