Anoka 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

Anoka County is the fourth-most-populous county in Minnesota, with a population of over 350,000. The county seat is the city of Anoka, and the largest city within the county is Blaine.  Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the communities and unincorporated areas of the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul metro region, including within Anoka County.  This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious problems associated with commercial sex in the area include child sex trafficking.

To combat prostitution and sex trafficking in the area, local law enforcement agencies have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex, which provides the revenue stream driving all commercial sex and trafficking. For example, in January, 2013, a web-based reverse sting operation was conducted in Coon Rapids. The operation was set up with the cooperation of the motel staff with both uniformed and plainclothes police officers involved.  The five men arrested came from the Twin Cities area – Brooklyn Park, New Brighton, Eagan, Champlin and Bethel – and ranged in age from 18 to 55.  They were all booked at the Anoka County Jail on gross misdemeanor prostitution charges and released after being given a court date.

In February, 2014 the Fridley PD arrested 19 johns. Officers posted a decoy advertisement on Backpage.com and set up an operation at a local hotel that cooperated in the sting. Six detectives conducted the operation– one female undercover officer posed as a decoy prostituted woman in a room monitored by video and audio surveillance, while other officers waited in an adjacent room until deals were struck, then they arrested the johns and took them to jail. All of the suspects were booked at the Anoka County jail and released.

In February 2014, the Chief of the Robbinsdale, MN Police Department was arrested in a reverse sting in Coon Rapids.  In that operation, 11 sex buyers were arrested. The Chief pleaded guilty in Anoka County Court, was fined $300, and received a stay of adjudication dependent upon completing a year of probation, completing a john school program at “Breaking Free” or a similar anti-prostitution program, and meeting all other the conditions set by the court – the prostitution case on his record will be dismissed if those conditions are met.

In 2017, a Circle Pines resident was convicted for offering to hire a trafficked child at a hotel in Coon Rapids. He was initially charged with a felony for offering to hire an hour of sexual services from a 14-year-old for $125, according to court documents. He was arrested during a sting by law enforcement at a Coon Rapids hotel in 2015. The sting was focused on those seeking to buy sex from minors. The man was one of the potential customers who responded to an online ad and agreed via text to pay $125 for an hour of services with a 14-year-old. When he arrived at the hotel, he had $125 in cash. The suspect maintained that he did not pay attention or realize that the person was underage and was simply coming for a massage. However, he told the undercover officer to prepare a condom when the officer asked him to bring one, according to a text message. He pleaded guilty in 2016 to a charge of hiring, offering or agreeing to hire prostitution in a public place. His conviction was deemed a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to one year of probation and fined $700. He was required to perform 20 hours of community service; 90 days in jail was stayed for successfully completing the terms of his probation. He volunteered at a food shelf.

Sixteen people were arrested in Shakopee as part of a seven-day sex trafficking sting operation in the metro area in the days before and after the 2018 Super Bowl in Minneapolis. The Shakopee Police Department was assisted by agencies in Carver County, Chaska, Savage, Belle Plaine and New Prague. First they worked with the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension from January 26 to February 2, and then they assisted the Guardian Angels Task Force. A Shakopee home was used as part of an undercover operation.  The BCA operations involved detectives posing as minors online, and the sting resulted in 36 arrests of people charged with solicitation of a minor, and 7 booked for sex trafficking or promoting prostitution.  The BCA leads the inter-agency Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force, which includes personnel from the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, the St. Paul and Minneapolis police departments, Department of Homeland Security Investigations, and the Ramsey County Attorney’s office. The reverse sting also included the participation of the Carver, Crow Wing, Dakota, Pope and Ramsey County Sheriff’s Offices, the Belle Plaine, Chaska, New Prague, North St. Paul, Savage and Shakopee police departments, and the Scott and Washington county attorney’s offices.

In July, 2019 the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force led a two-day undercover operation in the Twin Cities metro area that led to the arrests of 11 people (3 arrested for sex trafficking or promotion of prostitution, and 8 arrested for solicitation of a minor or solicitation of prostitution with a person under 16 years of age. In addition to the arrests, the operation led to 18 trafficking victims being recovered from trafficking situations and offered services. The Task Force conducted the operation in partnership with local agencies including the 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, Minnesota, Coon Rapids Police Department, Howard Lake Police Department, Minneapolis Police Department, City of Rochester Police Department, Saint Paul Police Department, Upper Sioux Police Department and investigators from the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office.

Key Partners

  • Anoka County Sheriff’s Office
  • Anoka County Jail
  • Blaine Police Department
  • Fridley Police Department
  • Coon Rapids Police Department
  • Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force
    • Anoka County Sheriff’s Office
    • St. Paul Police Department
    • Minneapolis Police Department
    • Department of Homeland Security Investigations
    • Ramsey County Attorney’s Office
  • Carver County Sheriff’s Office
  • Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office
  • Dakota County Sheriff’s Office
  • Pope County Sheriff’s Office
  • Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office
  • Belle Plaine Police Department
  • Chaska Police Department
  • New Prague Police Department
  • North St. Paul Police Department
  • Savage Police Department
  • Shakopee Police Department
  • Scott County Attorney’s Office
  • Washington County Attorney’s Office

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings:

Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Minnesota
Type County
Population 351373
Location
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