ANOKA, Minn.- Police were able to arrest 19 members of a sex trafficking ring in a recent sting operation.
The two day operation was lead by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) in conjunction with multiple police departments within the Twin Cities area. According to a BCA press release, undercover agents from these groups used social media platforms to lure traffickers to a meeting where they thought they would be meeting with children 13 to 15 years of age.
Police arrested 15 men for probable cause of solicitation of a child. Two other men and two women were taken into custody on probable cause of committing human trafficking. The operation was also able to rescue ten women from the traffickers. One of these women was a minor who was placed in Anoka County’s protective custody.
Minnesota authorities have recently ramped up efforts when it comes to the prevention of sex trafficking within the state. The Minnesota Department of Transportation started installing anti-trafficking posters in rest stops. These posters includes tips on recognizing signs of human trafficking and provide a toll-free hotline to report suspicious activity. Rest stops along the highway are believed by experts to be one of the common places that victims of trafficking are exchanged.
Earlier in the month, another sting operation resulted in the arrest of three men, including the Walnut Grove police chief, in Redwood county. Just as in the operation carried out by the BCA, use of social media and online tools were used in order to arrest the perpetrators. This follows a recent trend by law enforcement to use and work in conjunction with social media companies in order to combat trafficking.
From January through June of 2016, the Minnesota Department of Health reported that 374 victims of trafficking used the Safe Harbor act, which decriminalized the act of being a victim of sex trafficking.
With the Super Bowl coming up in 2018, many law enforcement agencies around the state have stepped up efforts to address the heinous crime of sex trafficking.