Using Backpage.com, a classified advertisement website, Duluth Police Department and Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force set up a prostitution and sex trafficking sting that netted 15 arrests.
The Duluth News Tribune reports that the operation was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday. Using two undercover female officers, authorities nabbed 13 men for soliciting sex. The men, who range in age from 26 to 61, were formally charged Friday with misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution in public. They will make their next court appearances in April.
The sting also snagged a suspected pimp and a female prostitute who had advertised on Backpage. The man faces preliminary charges of second-degree sex trafficking and first- and second-degree sale of methamphetamine. Authorities said he had 25 grams of methamphetamine and $390 in counterfeit U.S. currency with him when he was arrested.
The Northland's News Center said that the sting took place at a Duluth area motel. The station said that law enforcement officials were "...unwilling to disclose the exact location, saying they want to protect the motel's reputation."
WDIO reported that the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement were also involved in carrying out the sting.
Police said the men charged had all responded to an ad placed on Backpage. Meeting with two undercover female officers at a hotel, they were arrested after arranging payment for sexual services.