ITASCA COUNTY, Minn. — The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) says it has charged seven individuals involved in a human trafficking operation after undercover agents chatted with the suspects across several sex advertisement sites.
The charges range from solicitation with a person believed to be a minor to unlawful possession of a firearm, according to a BCA news release.
Those charged are Chard Arther Dockendorf (45), Matthew Ty Hall (32), Derek Wayne Jokinen (44), Bruce Duane Jones (54), Rusty James Marek (56), Saihou Adrisa Sissoho (20), and Michael Kelly West (53).
Most of the men charged are from Minnesota, with the exception of Hall and West, who are from Texas and Missouri respectively.
“What this operation tells us is that there is demand to sexually exploit young people in Northern Minnesota,” according to Itasca County Attorney Matti Adam. “This type of proactive law enforcement effort helps detect those who prey on our young and vulnerable populations."
The BCA says it partnered with the Itasca County Sheriff's Office, as well as the Tribes United Against Sex Trafficking Task Force during its three day operation from Feb. 17-19.
“This is about people making the choice to victimize innocent people, and we’re not going to stand for it,” said BCA Superintendent Drew Evans. “The BCA and our criminal justice partners are committed to stopping those who would buy other people for sex in our communities. It is not okay.”
The BCA says investigators apprehended the suspects as they met in person to engage in a "commercial sex crime," and have booked them all within the Itasca or Pennington County jails.
The BCA encourages anyone in immediate danger of being trafficked to call 911. Suspected trafficking situations can be reported to the BCA at 877-996-6222 or firstname.lastname@example.org