ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. — A Minnesota man has been charged with participating in a nationwide sex trafficking operation
Zhaxi Taxing, 41, of St. Louis Park was charged with engaging in the sex trafficking of an individual. Taxing is one of the owners of Sumo Japanese Sushi Steak House which is located in the Arbor Lakes area of Maple Grove. According to the Maple Grove Voice, the new restaurant was opened at the end of January.
Sumo Japanese Sushi Steak House co-owner Sonam Tsering, 36, from Plymouth, Massachusetts, is also implicated in charges filed by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
Tsering is charged with engaging in the sex trafficking of an individual, promoting the prostitution of an individual, and receiving profits from prostitution.
According to the criminal complaint, in November 2016, the Bloomington Police Department were investigating a commercial sex advertisement on the site backpages.com. Officers identified the ad for an Asian woman to be similar of other ads created by Asian Human Trafficking Organizations (AHTO).
The ad led to an Edina apartment where an adult woman who only spoke Chinese greeted officers in lingerie. Through a translator, the woman said she was brought from New York to Minnesota to be a prostitute so she could pay for medical bills.
Taxing used a fake name and social security number to rent the Edina apartment and another apartment in Richfield that was also tied to prostitution.
In January, another ad placed in backpages.com led officers to another woman at the Richfield apartment who told officers that she paid her handlers $50 for every $140 she makes. Men paid her directly – $140 for 30 minutes and $180 for an hour.
Taxing was identified as a caretaker of the women. He used the app WeChat to receive instruction on picking up women from the airport and how to take care of them. Taxing received more than $52,000, in deposits over $1,000.
Tsering, who owns 10 percent of the restaurant in Maple Grove told authorities that he was paid to take care of the prostitutes. He received approximately $20,000 in less than five months time.
Authorities note Minnesota will have to file a warrant due to the defendant’s ties to states such as New York and California.