Earlier this month, we shared a blog detailing how police arrested 36 men for attempting to solicit sex from a minor and seven men for sex trafficking in the days leading up to the Super Bowl, but in those instances, police let the buyers come to them. But that wasn’t the only way officers were attempting to stop sex trafficking from taking place. They also implemented a sting operation known as Operation Guardian Angel.
Operation Guardian Angel was a more proactive enforcement where police posted decoy ads on various websites to entice men who were looking for sex. Police posted numerous ads posing as minors looking to exchange sexual services for cash. Once the men reached out to the fake advertisements, an undercover agent exchanged messages with the individual. The undercover agents posed as either 13-, 14- or 15-year-old teens, and they made their age expressly clear to help the prosecution build their case that the messenger knew they were talking to someone who they thought was underage.
Nearly 100 individuals made arraignments to meet with the believed underage victim, and they were arrested when the arrived at the agreed upon location. 90 of the 94 men arrested during the sting operation were charged with felony sex offenses.
“What’s important to understand about these … felony arrests, is that all of these … 90 individuals that showed up, these are people that agreed to come to whatever the location was and have sex with a 15- or 14- or 13-year-old victim,” Snyder said. “… Of course, on the other side of that was not a 13, 14-year-old or 15-year-old boy or girl, but” law enforcement officers.
Operation Guardian Angel Statistics
So who was attempting to buy sex in Minnesota in the 11 days leading up to the Super Bowl? Here’s a closer look at the arrest data:
- Most of the men arrested were between the age of 21 and 50, which suggests more younger people are attempting to buy sex.
- In previous Operation Guardian Angel stings, the largest percentage of buyers were between the ages of 41 and 50. The biggest group of buyers in the Super Bowl sting were between 31 and 40 years old, followed by men between the ages of 21 and 30.
- During other OGA stings, the majority of arrested individuals were white. During the Super Bowl sting, 44 percent of men were white, while the rest were from various ethnic groups.
- During the 11 days leading up to the Super Bowl, there were 9,796 ads for sex on the surveyed sites. There were 8,325 ads during the same time last year.
- The team also documented 28 “in-person contacts” where undercover women were offered money in exchange for sexual services.
Sex trafficking is a problem in our community even when we’re not hosting the Super Bowl. Learn how you can help prevent sex trafficking from taking place, and if you need legal assistance or victim services, don’t hesitate to reach out to Appelman Law Firm