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Minnesota child-sex sting results in 58 arrests, state says

Reuters logo Reuters 4/10/2019
General view of the Final Four city scenes around U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on April 7, 2019. © Shanna Lockwood/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters General view of the Final Four city scenes around U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on April 7, 2019.

April 10 (Reuters) - Minnesota authorities arrested 58 people accused of attempting to solicit children for sex or for trafficking in a sting operation staged during the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament, state authorities said on Wednesday.

The sting, which resulted in the rescue of 28 victims from trafficking situations, including one minor, occurred Friday through Monday as undercover agents posed as minors or as sex buyers and chatted with suspects on social media platforms. Investigators arrested the suspects as they arrived at an arranged meeting place for an encounter, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said in a statement.

Those arrested were not part of a single sex-trafficking ring, Jill Oliveira, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension with the Department of Public Safety, said.

"These were separate instances where they either responded to undercover officers posing as sex buyers or undercover officers posing as minors," Oliveira said.

Thousands of college basketball fans converged on Minneapolis last weekend to see the semifinal and final rounds of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's men's championship, won this year by the University of Virginia.

A total of 47 people were booked on felony charges of solicitation of a minor or solicitation of prostitution with someone under 16 years of age, while another 11 were booked on probable cause of sex trafficking and promotion of prostitution, the agency said.

"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 Drew Evans, superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

The sting comes less than two months after New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was charged with soliciting sex as part of an investigation into sex trafficking at several Florida day spas. Kraft, who has pleaded not guilty, was one of 25 men who were taken into custody in the sting. 


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