Seven people, including several from Chishom and Grand Rapids, were charged after being arrested in a human trafficking operation in Itasca County, authorities said late Friday night.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force led an operation from this past Wednesday through Friday, Feb. 17-19. The state agency worked with the Itasca County Sheriff’s Office and Tribes United Against Sex Trafficking.
“During the operation, suspects chatted with undercover agents and investigators on several sex advertisement websites,” the BCA said in a news release. “Investigators arrested the suspects as they arrived at an arranged meeting place for a commercial sex crime.”
Law enforcement booked the individuals into Itasca or Pennington county jails.
“What this operation tells us is that there is demand to sexually exploit young people in northern Minnesota,” Itasca County Attorney Matti Adam added. “This type of proactive law enforcement effort helps detect those who prey on our young and vulnerable populations. I am thankful that Itasca County could partner with the task force in this effort.”
Five of the people charged with crimes were from northern Minnesota.
Saihou Adrisa Sissoho, 20, of Chisholm, was charged with solicitation of a person believed to be a minor.
Chad Arther Dockendorf, 45, of Grand Rapids, was charged with solicitation of a person believed to be a minor and fourth-degree DWI.
Rusty James Marek, 56, of Grand Rapids, was charged with solicitation of a person believed to be a minor.
Derek Wayne Jokinen, 44, of Sawyer, was charged with solicitation of a person believed to be a minor.
Bruce Duane Jones, 54, of Goodridge, was charged with communication of sexually explicit materials to a minor.
Two of the individuals charged with crimes were from out of state.
Matthew Ty Hall, 32, of Mount Pleasant, Texas, was charged with solicitation of a person believed to be a minor.
Michael Kelly West, 53, of Rolla, Missouri, was charged with carrying a pistol without a permit and solicitation to engage in prostitution.
“This is about people making the choice to victimize innocent people, and we’re not going to stand for it,” BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said in the news release. “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 noted other agencies which helped in the operation, including the Fond du Lac, Leech Lake Tribal, Cambridge, Thief River Falls, Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments; the Isanti, Kanabec, Polk, Anoka, Aitkin and Hennepin county sheriff’s offices; Homeland Security Investigations, and the Itasca and Ramsey county attorney’s offices.
The BCA’s Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force targets traffickers and those exploiting children for sex. The agency asked if readers know anyone in immediate danger of being trafficked call 911. To report a suspected trafficking situation, call the BCA at 877-996-6222 or email email@example.com.