Stillwater, 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

Stillwater is a city in Washington County, Minnesota, and has a population of about 19,000. Stillwater is part of the Twin Cities Metro Area, and is located across the St. Croix River from Wisconsin. Prostitution and sex trafficking are well-documented in the city, and throughout the region.  For example, in 2017, police revoked the license of a Washington County massage parlor after an employee there was charged with prostitution. The Washington County Sheriff’s Department conducted a sting operation on the massage parlor after receiving several complaints about the business. Also in 2017, the Washington County Attorney’s Office announced that a man was sentenced for sex trafficking a 14-year-old girl and for the promotion of prostitution. The convict was sentenced to 120 months in prison and 90 months in prison on those charges, respectively. The 14-year-old victim had told police that she had been trafficked by by the offender on and had sex with at least two different men in exchange for money, which she turned over to defendant. Police departments involved in the cooperative effort to recover the juvenile victim and securing the sex trafficking conviction were Woodbury, Oakdale, Forest Lake, Stillwater, Saint Paul, Minneapolis, as well as the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Prostitution and sex trafficking related production of child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often referred to in criminal codes as “child pornography”) have also occurred in the city.  For example, in June, 2020, a Stillwater man already facing federal charges for possessing child pornography was charged with producing sexual images of children on equipment that was transported in interstate or foreign commerce. The indictment in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis said the man produced illegal “visual depictions” on computers and a cell phone, and that he induced two minor children into engaging in sexually explicit conduct. A second count in the indictment alleges that the man possessed video clips that portrayed girls ages 8, 9 and 12. The federal indictment came after state charges were filed against the offender for trying to solicit a 13-year-old girl for prostitution, when he allegedly sent the girl a message on Facebook. The girl continued to receive instant messages, and was asked if she wanted to “make a lot of money” having sex with men, the complaint said. The man was charged with two felony counts in Washington County District Court when police recovered seven videos from his computer showing minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Among the efforts to combat sex trafficking and prostitution in Stillwater and Washington County are the use of tactics targeting consumer-level demand, including reverse stings. For example, in July 2016, four men were arrested on felony prostitution charges after a sting conducted in Stillwater. According to Stillwater police reports, all four were arrested on suspicion of soliciting a minor for prostitution. In August, 2019, seven men were criminally charged after being caught in a sting set up to combat the exploitation of minor children in the sex industry.  In July, 2022, six people were arrested on felony charges in connection to sex trafficking stings in St. Paul and Stillwater last week. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s human trafficking task force, along with other organizations, conducted the operation. The suspects involved attempted to solicit minors for paid sexual abuse. Four victims were also recovered from sex trafficking situations during the operation. Undercover agents posed as minors or sex buyers on social media and chatted with suspects before the sting. When the suspects arrived at the meeting places arranged online, they were arrested. Five of the suspects were arrested on charges of soliciting a minor under the age of 18 for prostitution. One of the suspects was arrested on charges of promotion of prostitution. In a press release about the operation, the Washington County Attorney said,

“These arrests demonstrate that the market for juvenile commercial sex is not confined to limited segments of society. The buyers come from all walks of life and each are responsible for the tremendous harm to the victims their families and the public that sex trafficking causes.”

Key Partners

  • Stillwater Police Department
  • Washington County Sheriff’s Office
  • Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
  • Woodbury Police Department
  • Oakdale Police Department
  • Forest Lake Police Department
  • Saint Paul Police Department
  • Minneapolis Police Department
State Minnesota
Type City
Population 19292
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