Officials arrest 58 for ‘soliciting children for sex’ in lead up to NCAA Final Four championship in Minnesota

The sting was conducted online with agents posing undercover as minors or as buyers

Clark Mindock
New York
Wednesday 10 April 2019 23:20 BST

Police in Minnesota have arrested 58 people who allegedly attempted to solicit children for sex as a part of a trafficking sting operation staged during the NCAA Final Four Basketball championship.

The sting led to the rescue of at last 28 victims of trafficking, including one minor, according to state officials.

The operations were carried out by under cover agents who pretended to be minors or individuals searching to pay for sex, and who chatted with suspects on social media. When suspects arrived for arranged meetings, they are then arrested, according to the Minnesota department of public safety.

“These were separate instances where they either responded to undercover officers posing as sex buyers or undercover officers posing as minors,” said Jill Oliveira, a department spokesperson.

The sting led to a total of 47 individuals being hit with felony charges for soliciting a minor, or for soliciting prostitution with someone under the age of 16. Eleven people were also taken into custody with probable cause for promotion of prostitution, or for sex trafficking.

“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,” Drew Andrews, the superintendent of the bureau of criminal apprehension, said.

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Major sporting events are often monitored by officials for child and human trafficking, as the big number of people brought into a city can lead to concerns for an increase in those types of crimes.

The sting in Minnesota follows just two months after a separate sting in Florida over human trafficking resulted in charges brought against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft for soliciting sex.

Reuters contributed to this report

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