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Wendy Reuer, Published May 25 2012

Fargo man accused of human trafficking

FARGO – Police arrested a 40-year-old man here on suspicion of human trafficking for allegedly running an online prostitution business.

Chad Lee Lindley of Fargo was ar-rested at his home Friday morning and will likely be charged with hu-man trafficking, a Class A felony, said police Lt. Joel Vettel.

Vettel said he believes this is the first time an arrest for human trafficking has been made in the city of Fargo or the state of North Dakota. He said there are others involved in this case and more arrests could occur.

Through an investigation and a police informant, detectives found that Lindley was allegedly operating a website that sought to recruit young women for prostitution, Vettel said.

“He was arrested because of the fact that we have enough evidence to show that he is financially benefiting from the exploitation of these females and prostitution,” Vettel said.

If convicted of human trafficking, Lindley would face a maximum penalty of a $20,000 fine and 20 years in prison.

Vettel also said a search warrant executed at Lindley’s home on the 4900 block of 16th Avenue South, allegedly turned up steroids. He said Lindley will face a Class C felony narcotics possession charge that carries a possible penalty of an additional 10 years in prison.

The term “human trafficking” often describes moving people for the purposes of slavery or exploitation. The issue has drawn international attention, with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime saying about 2.5 million trafficking victims at any one time is a conservative estimate.

In North Dakota, trafficking laws apply to not only the transporting of humans for those reasons, but the laws also target those who attempt to make money from exploitation or prostitution, Vettel said.

Since investigators allege that Lindley was making money from recruiting women for prostitution, police will recommend he be charged with the serious felony, he said.

Vettel said he suspects Lindley will be arraigned in Cass County District Court on Tuesday.

Vettel said arrests such as Lindley’s and common prostitution stings performed by the Fargo police help deter large-scale operations in the community as well as other crime such as robbery, violence and drugs.

“There are groups and businesses that are acting as promoters of prostitution, and they are acting in our community,” Vettel said. “We need to address this issue as a community and make sure it’s not happening within the city of Fargo.”

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530