ST. PAUL, Minn. - Four members of a St. Paul family stand charged in what authorities are calling an extensive sex trafficking ring that stretched through a number of Minnesota communities.
Prosecutors allege that the human trafficking ring run by 29-year-old Otis Deno Washington; his 27-year-old brother Antonio Dion Washington-Davis; their uncles, 49-year-old Calvin Roy Washington and 56-year-old Robert James Washington; and a fifth accomplice, 25-year-old Elizabeth Ann Alexander, operated for two years.
St. Paul police arrested the defendants Monday morning.
"All of the defendants are a part of an evil conspiracy to enslave women and girls for their own financial gain," said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi in a written release. "The defendants' actions have caused unimaginable horror and harm to the victims as well as to our community over a considerable period of time."
A criminal complaint issued Wednesday says authorities were tipped off to the operation by an e-mail from a woman stating that her 15-year-old granddaughter had been
targeted by a group of sex traffickers at 620 Hawthorne in St. Paul where a number of women were being sold for sex.
In an interview with police the teen told investigators that both Otis "Dino" Washington and his brother Antonio brought her and a friend to the Hawthorne address, owned by their uncle Robert Washington. There "Dino" told the teen that her friend was going to serve as a prostitute for the group and tried to convince her to prostitute herself as well.
With the help of the BCA, St. Paul Police investigators were able to identify additional victims of the Washington brothers and their uncles in a probe that lasted for several months. Detectives say the brothers used eight different e-mail addresses to place hundreds of ads on adult-oriented websites such as Backpage.com.
In addition to the e-mails, police say the defendants used at least 30 different phone numbers and over 100
different credit cards associated with the online ads for contact with the victims. Examples of the ads include: "$70 Late Night $pecial" and "Sober up with our 2 sluts".
Victims told police the Washington brothers threatened them, and would take them out of town to keep them away from family and friends and make sure they kept quiet.
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