Pope County, MN

Tactics Used

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

Pope County, Minnesota has a population of about 11,000, and its county seat is the city of Glenwood (with a population of less than 3,000).  Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented within the county, generating ancillary crimes and complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses.

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. Local law enforcement agencies have conducted operations designed to identify and arrest sex buyers. For example, in August 2015, officers with the Pope County Sheriff’s Office, Glenwood and Starbuck Police Departments, and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s Internet Crimes Against Children and West Central Minnesota Drug and Violent Crime Task Forces conducted a reverse sting using web advertisements. Undercover officers posed as women offering commercial sex acts online, and arranged to meet the individuals who responded in Glenwood. Five johns were arrested as a result; their identities were publicized in a PCSO news release. In the statement, the PCSO commented that “this is a statewide issue and local law enforcement is attempting to address it in our local communities.”

In April 2019, nearly five dozen people faced possible felony charges following their arrests for attempting to solicit children for sex or for trafficking victims, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Investigators with the BCA-led Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force conducted an operation on April 4-8 in several Twin Cities communities. The effort included resources from Task Force affiliate agencies, including the Pope County Sheriff’s Office. During the operation, suspects chatted on several social media platforms with undercover agents and investigators who posed as minors or as sex buyers. Investigators arrested the suspects as they arrived at an arranged meeting place for an encounter.  Suspects were booked into the Hennepin, Anoka or Ramsey county jails and their cases were submitted for charging.

Key Partners

  • Pope County Sheriff’s Office
  • Glenwood Police Department
  • Starbuck Police Department
  • West Central Minnesota Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force
  • Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA)
    • Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
    • Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force
  • Anoka County Sheriff’s Office
  • Bemidji Police Department
  • Blaine Police Department
  • Bloomington Police Department
  • Brooklyn Park Police Department
  • Buffalo Police Department
  • Cambridge Police Department
  • Coon Rapids Police Department
  • Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office
  • Duluth Police Department
  • Eden Prairie Police Department
  • Edina Police Department
  • Hennepin County Attorney’s Office
  • Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office
  • Homeland Security Investigations
  • Howard Lake Police Department
  • Isanti County Sheriff’s Office
  • Kanabec County Sheriff’s Office
  • Maplewood Police Department
  • Minneapolis Police Department
  • Oakdale Police Department
  • Owatonna Police Department
  • Plymouth Police Department
  • Pope County Sheriff’s Office
  • Ramsey County Attorney’s Office
  • Rochester Police Department
  • St. Cloud Police Department
  • St. Paul Police Department
  • Thief River Falls Police Department
  • Upper Sioux Police Department
  • Washington County Attorney’s Office
  • Washington County Sheriff’s Office
State Minnesota
Type County
Population 10970
Location
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