Ramsey County, 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

Ramsey County has a population of approximately 543,000, and its largest city and county seat is St. Paul, Minnesota’s state capital. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities and unincorporated areas of the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul metro region.  St. Paul has experienced a wide range of problems associated with its robust local commercial sex market, including child sex trafficking, sexually exploited persons specifically targeted for assault and murder, and infants endangered during commercial sex exchanges.

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, sixteen people were arrested in Shakopee as part of a seven-day sex trafficking sting operation in the metro area in the days before and after the 2018 Super Bowl in Minneapolis. The Shakopee Police Department was heavily involved in two sex trafficking sting operations in the region. After months of planning, Shakopee Sgt. John Buetow headed an operation with assistance from Carver County, Chaska, Savage, Belle Plaine and New Prague in surveillance, arrests and interviews. First they worked with the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension from January 26 to February 2, and then they assisted the Guardian Angels Task Force. A Shakopee home was used as part of an undercover operation, and of the 16 people arrested in Shakopee, only one person was from Shakopee. The BCI sting resulted in 43 arrests, and Guardian Angels Task Force netted over 100 cases. In the BCA operations, people posed as minors online, while Guardian Angels ran ads offering juvenile escorts.

The BCA said three dozen were booked on probable cause for solicitation of a minor and seven were booked for sex trafficking or promoting prostitution. Those numbers reflect only the BCA’s task force and do not include arrests on similar charges or stings conducted by other law enforcement agencies. The BCA leads the inter-agency Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force, which includes personnel from the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, the St. Paul and Minneapolis police departments, Department of Homeland Security Investigations, and the Ramsey County Attorney’s office. The reverse sting also included the participation of the Carver, Crow Wing, Dakota, Pope and Ramsey County sheriff’s offices, the Belle Plaine, Chaska, New Prague, North St. Paul, Savage and Shakopee police departments, and the Scott and Washington county attorney’s offices. A similar Guardian Angels operation during the Ryder Cup in 2016 in Chaska netted nine arrests in Shakopee. Law enforcement posted ads on Craigslist and Backpage.com  for those prior operations.

University of Minnesota study released in May, 2018 found that most sex buyers make their transactions between 30 and 60 miles from their hometown. Northeast metro residents convicted of offering to buy prostitution in the seven-county metro area have traveled as far as Bloomington. In August, 2018, a Chaska lawyer was charged with allegedly attempting to solicit sex from a 12-year-old after he was caught in a Department of Homeland Security sting. The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office on Aug. 3 charged the man with one count of prostitution and one count of soliciting a child (or believed to be a child) through electronic communication to engage in sexual conduct. The suspect thought he was texting the father of a 12-year-old girl before he was arrested, the court files stated.

Key Partners

  • Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office
  • Ramsey County District Attorney’s Office
  • St. Paul Police Department
  • Minneapolis Police Department
  • Ramsey County District Attorney
  • Olmsted County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Anoka County Sheriff’s Office
  • Department of Homeland Security Investigations,
  • Breaking Free
  • Action Network to End Sexual Exploitation in Minnesota (ANESEM)
  • Sawyer Solutions, LLC

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Street-Level Reverse Stings:

Web-Based Reverse Stings:


Auto Seizure:

Neighborhood Action:

Community Service:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Minnesota
Type County
Population 543257
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