Swift 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

Swift County is located in western Minnesota, located west of the MinneapolisSt. 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 has been prevalent enough to warrant opening a facility in Benson for girls ages 12-17 who have been victims of sex trafficking. Four Minnesota agencies collaborated 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. One of the collaborative agencies, Heartland Girls’ Ranch, would 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 would 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 pleaded guilty to four charges of soliciting and possessing child pornography (i.e., child sexual abuse materials) in Swift County District Court. He had been charged 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 9749
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