Swift 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

Swift County is located in western Minnesota, located west of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, along the Chippewa River. The population of the County is roughly 10,000, and its larger towns include Benson, Danvers, Holloway, and Appleton. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the county. The problem is prevalent enough to warrant to open a facility in Benson for girls ages 12-17 who have been victims of sex trafficking.  Four Minnesota agencies are collaborating under the Minnesota Department of Human Services Safe Harbor Shelter and Housing grants to provide shelter and services for the state’s sexually exploited youth. As one of the collaborative agencies, Heartland Girls’ Ranch will provide longer-term housing and supportive services specific to minor victims of sex trafficking. Heartland was also awarded funding through the Minnesota Department of Health to provide a Safe Harbor Regional Navigator for the West Central Minnesota region — a position which will respond to cases of minor sex trafficking within the 21-county region of Wilkin, Ottertail, Traverse, Grant, Douglas, Todd, Stearns, Big Stone, Stevens, Pope, Swift, Lac Qui Parle, Yellow Medicine (including the Upper Sioux Community Reservation), Chippewa, Renville, McLeod, Meeker, Kandiyohi, Benton, Sherburne and Wright counties.

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. To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, local police have collaborated with other agencies to conduct reverse stings and publicize the identities of arrested sex buyers.  For example, in October 2018 a former Benson hockey coach plead guilty to four charges of soliciting and possessing child pornography, in Swift County District Court. He was charged more than a year ago with one count of soliciting sex with a minor through electronic communication, one count of engaging in sexual conduct with a minor through electronic communication, and 11 counts of possessing child pornography.  He was arrested during an undercover operation involving a Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension special agent posing as an underage girl. A search warrant subsequently executed at his Benson home uncovered a stash of videos depicting child pornography. Several firearms were also found.  He agreed to plead guilty to one count of soliciting sex online with a minor, one count of engaging in sexual conduct online with a minor and two counts of possessing child pornography. The remaining eight counts were dismissed.

Key Partners

  • Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
  • Upper Sioux Police Department
  • Anoka County Sheriff’s Office
  • Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office
  • Isanti County Sheriff’s Office
  • Kanabec County Sheriff’s Office
  • Blaine Police Department
  • Bloomington Police Department
  • Brooklyn Park Police Department
  • Buffalo Police Department
  • Coon Rapids Police Department
  • Howard Lake Police Department
  • Ramsey County Attorney’s Office
State Minnesota
Type County
Population 9407
Location
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