By Associated Press - Saturday, February 20, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Seven men have been arrested and charged in a northern Minnesota human trafficking ring, according to state investigators.

The defendants, including five from Minnesota, were arrested Wednesday through Friday during an undercover operation. They’re being held in jails in Itasca and Pennington counties.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension led the sting in partnership with the Tribes United Against Sex Trafficking Task Force and Itasca County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the BCA, the men connected with undercover investigators on sex advertisement websites. They were arrested when they showed up at arranged meetings for sex.

Many of the charges involve soliciting a person believed to be a minor.

“What this operation tells us is that there is demand to sexually exploit young people in Northern Minnesota,” said Itasca County Attorney Matti Adam. “This type of proactive law enforcement effort helps detect those who prey on our young and vulnerable populations.”

The Minnesota defendants are from Grand Rapids, Sawyer, Chisholm and Goodridge.

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