5 MN men charged with using Craigslist to solicit underage girls

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Five Minnesota men are charged with felonies after investigators say they tried to solicit underage girls for sex on Craigslist.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says in an operation that lasted weeks, an undercover agent working as a 14-year-old girl corresponded with each of the men in Craigslist's "Casual Encounter" section.

The BCA says each of the suspects arranged to meet the "girl" for a sexual encounter and was arrested at the meeting location.

The suspects range in age from an 18-year-old Fairmont man to a 61-year-old from Mankato. Others are men in their 30s from Richfield, St. Louis Park, and Eagle Lake.

They're charged with felony counts of soliciting sexual conduct with a child through electronic communication, describing sexual conduct during electronic communication with a child, and providing material related to sexual conduct to a child.

Internet Crimes Against Children

The sting was led by agents with the BCA's Internet Crimes Against Children task force, which works with law enforcement and prosecutors across the state.

It targets those who would use the Internet to exploit children. The BCA says the task force received nearly 1,300 tips in 2015, which is six times more than its first year in 2010.

They advise parents to supervise their kids' use of the Internet, set rules about online time, look over their online profiles, and talk with them about protecting and respecting themselves online.

There's also a national Internet Crimes Against Children task force that works with thousands of agencies. It offers resources and training in the fight against child exploitation.

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