Five charged in multi-state sex trafficking ring


Ramsey County officials have charged five St. Paul area residents in connection with a multi-state sex trafficking ring that involved at least five different female victims.

County Attorney John Choi announced Tuesday that each defendant faces multiple sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. They are (pictured left to right, above):

· Thomas William Evans, 25, of St. Paul
· Ishmel Jamaine Williams, 21, of St. Paul
· Suwan Dominique Cross, 19, of West St. Paul
· Doris Marie Keller, 38, of St. Paul
· Yolanda Katrice Foster, 28, of St. Paul

Four of the five will make their first court appearance Wednesday.

"This was a well-organized sex trafficking operation, funded entirely by men paying for sex with vulnerable girls and young women in our community," said Choi in a news release.

Sting op led to investigation

St. Paul police began investigating the defendants last September after officers rescued a 17-year-old victim through an undercover sting operation, according to the criminal complaints.

The girl was listed on as "Ms. Juicy," and an undercover officer set up an appointment with her at a St. Paul home via a text message, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

All five defendants were at the house or nearby when the officers arrived, but they denied any knowledge of the sex trafficking scheme, according to the complaint.

The victim was removed, and when police searched the premises the next day they found several cell phones and "Vanilla" Visa prepaid debit cards, which are commonly used in the sex trafficking trade because they're difficult to trace, WCCO reports.

Police determined that several of the cards were used to buy ads on for sex trafficking in several states, including Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, Georgia and Kentucky.

Victims abused, given drugs

The complaints also describe how the defendants lured one young woman from Texas to Minnesota by promising her a better life, including a car and a house, according to WCCO.

Other victims were recruited from St. Paul, and all were required by the defendants to have sex with men several times a day for money, and then turn over all the money to the ringleaders. Some of the victims were sent to "johns" in other states.

Choi said the defendants controlled the victims by keeping close watch on them, verbally intimidating them, hitting them in the legs and giving them drugs.

"Today’s charges are a glaring reminder that men in our community still think it is okay to purchase human beings for sex and that traffickers are all too eager to oblige," said Choi.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that more than 40 percent of the victims of sex trafficking are children.

Next Up

Fruen Mill in Minneapolis.

Teen in serious condition after fall at abandoned Minneapolis mill

Multiple urban explorers have been hurt at the Fruen Mill.

Screen Shot 2021-04-12 at 5.44.29 PM

Brooklyn Center City Council votes to create department for noncriminal calls

The resolution is named after Daunte Wright and Kobe Dimock-Heisler, who were both killed by police in Brooklyn Center.

Screen Shot 2021-05-16 at 7.54.26 AM

Train derails while passing by lake in Albert Lea

The Union Pacific train derailed Saturday afternoon.

Kaprizov, Wild

5 questions for the Wild's playoff series against Vegas

The Wild seem to have the advantage, but can they win their first playoff series since 2015?

police tape, crime scene

Young girl shot in the head in north Minneapolis

The girl was outside when she was struck by the bullet, police said.

prison, Rush City cell block

Former Army Green Beret and U of M student sentenced for Russian espionage

Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins, 46, was sentenced to 188 months in prison.

Miguel Sano

Miguel SanĂ³'s 8th inning blast ends Twins losing streak

The 5-4 victory over the A's snapped a five-game losing streak.

Thomas Humphrey, charged in vaccine thefts.

Viral videos of vaccine thefts lead to charges for MN anti-vaxxer

Thomas Edward Humphrey is a 32-year-old St. Paul resident.

Kyle Imdieke of Osakis, Minnesota.

Community rallies around family of MN coach who died suddenly

Kyle Imdieke was a beloved educator at Osakis High School.

Hinckley crash

Fatal crash that closed north I-35 caused when SUV crossed median

The incident occurred Friday afternoon one mile south of Hinckley in eastern Minnesota.

Screen Shot 2021-05-15 at 7.17.27 AM

Viral video: Customer argues with Menards worker over store mask policy

The incident happened in Buffalo on Thursday, hours after the CDC issued new guidance on face masks for vaccinated people.