MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Wisconsin veterinarian received the first conviction and sentence in Minnesota history for labor trafficking Wednesday.
The Washington County Attorney’s office says 61-year-old Brian Lee Kersten, of Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, was sentenced for sex trafficking and aiding and abetting labor trafficking.
The criminal complaint says investigators first became aware of Kersten during a prostitution sting at a Woodbury hotel last September.
A woman from China told investigators that she came to the United States believing she was going to work in a Twin Cities salon.
Kersten, and a Chinese national named Shixin Zhang, picked the woman up from the airport and told her that she was instead going to give “massages” in a hotel.
Zhang was found to be the head of a sex trafficking operation, and used Kersten — whom she met when he was buying prostitutes himself — to drive victims to hotels for sex, which was arranged on the notorious website BackPages.com.
“Kersten was part of an international conspiracy to bring foreign nationals into Minnesota for the purpose of prostituting them,” said Prosecutor Imran Ali.
Kersten was sentenced to about four-and-a-half years in prison.