(Reuters) – Minnesota authorities arrested 58 people accused of attempting to solicit children for sex or for trafficking in a sting operation staged during the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament, state authorities said on Wednesday.
The sting, which resulted in the rescue of 28 victims, including one minor, occurred Friday through Monday as undercover agents posed as minors or as sex buyers and chatted with suspects on social media platforms. Investigators arrested the suspects as they arrived at an arranged meeting place for an encounter, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said in a statement.
The people arrested were not part of a single sex-trafficking ring, Jill Oliveira, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension with the Department of Public Safety, said.
“These were separate instances where they either responded to undercover officers posing as sex buyers or undercover officers posing as minors,” Oliveira said.
A total of 47 people were booked on felony charges of solicitation of a minor or solicitation of prostitution with someone under 16 years of age, while another 11 people were booked on probable cause of sex trafficking and promotion of prostitution, the agency said.
Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Leslie Adler
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