Local Officer Aids In Final Four Human Trafficking Sting
An investigator with the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office recently took part in an operation in the Twin Cities targeting online predators seeking underage children during the NCAA Men’s Final Four basketball tournament.
According to a release, Officer Craig Katzenberger was able to identify and apprehend three suspects, one of which is a registered sex offender. This collaboration of officers and personnel from 33 criminal justice agencies who are specifically trained to locate and apprehend online predators takes place during various times throughout the year and for large events.
During the undercover operation, nearly five dozen people total were arrested and are facing possible felony charges for attempting to solicit children for sex or for trafficking victims, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Investigators with the BCA-led Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force conducted the operation April 4 through April 8 in several Twin Cities communities. During the operation, suspects chatted on several social media platforms with undercover agents and investigators who posed as minors or as sex buyers. Investigators arrested the suspects as they arrived at an arranged meeting place for an encounter.
Suspects were booked into the Hennepin, Anoka or Ramsey county jails and their cases will be submitted for charging. Most are from the greater Twin Cities area.
– 47 people were booked on probable cause felony solicitation of a minor or solicitation of prostitution under 16 years of age.
– 11 people were booked on probable cause sex trafficking, promotion of prostitution.
– 28 victims were rescued from trafficking situations, including one minor.
“The sad reality is that people use the internet and its various applications to seek out and victimize people in many ways, including for sexual purposes. We are fortunate in Crow Wing County to have a specialized investigator who primarily focuses on crimes related to the internet which includes protecting our children from harm,” said Crow Wing County Sheriff Scott Goddard.
Investigator Katzenberger, a previous Brainerd Police Officer, joined the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office in 2017. The Sheriff’s Office is part of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force and Katzenberger has been an active contributor to this cause.