Associated Press, Published April 10 2013
Ramsey County charges 5 in sex trafficking caseST. PAUL — Two St. Paul brothers and two of their uncles are among five people charged in a sex trafficking operation that authorities say spanned nearly two years and ensnared several victims in Minnesota.
According to the criminal complaints, authorities began investigating after a woman emailed police, saying her 15-year-old granddaughter was taken to a home where women were being sold for sex. Authorities built a case over several months, and prosecutors said the brothers used eight email addresses and 30 phone numbers to place hundreds of ads on adult-oriented websites.
“All of the defendants are a part of an evil conspiracy to enslave women and girls for their own financial gain,” Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said Wednesday in a statement. “The defendants’ actions have caused unimaginable horror and harm to the victims as well as to our community. ... Women and girls are not for sale in Ramsey County.”
The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the charges involve the alleged trafficking of eight girls and women, ages 15 to 40, and two additional females were victimized by the defendants previously. There may be more victims as the investigation continues.
An attorney for the defendants did not return a message left after office hours Wednesday by The Associated Press.
The 15-year-old whose grandmother sparked the investigation told police the brothers brought the girl and a friend to a house owned by one of the accused. The girl said she was told her friend “was going to serve as a prostitute for the group” and that Otis Washington tried to convince her to become a prostitute as well.
Prosecutors say the brothers took drastic measure to keep the victims in line.
Another victim told investigators the brothers preyed on vulnerable or mentally slow women. Two women were approached at a homeless shelter. Investigators said one woman with bipolar disorder told authorities she was forced to perform sex acts with about six men a night, sometimes as many as 20.