ST. PAUL-The Bemidji Police Department was one of multiple agencies to contribute in a human trafficking task force that resulted in the arrest of nearly five dozen people April 4-8 during the NCAA Men's Final Four basketball tournament in the Twin Cities.
The Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force was led by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and included personnel from 33 law enforcement agencies, including Homeland Security Investigations. Other area agencies included the Duluth and Thief River Falls police departments.
"This operation is an example of the aggressive steps necessary to stop traffickers and johns who buy and sell people for sex in our communities," said BCA Superintendent Drew Evans in a press release. "We can't let this crime continue, and we must work together to stop it."
During the operation, the suspects chatted on several social media platforms with undercover agents and investigators who posed as minors or as sex buyers. Investigators arrested the suspects when they arrived at an arranged meeting place for an encounter.
In total, 47 people were booked on charges of felony solicitation of a minor or solicitation of prostitution under 16 years of age. Eleven people were booked on probable cause sex trafficking, promotion of prostitution. Twenty-eight victims were rescued from trafficking situations, including one minor.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of being trafficked, call 911. To report a suspected trafficking situation, call the BCA at (877) 996-6222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.