MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Two Minnesotans have been charged in a sex trafficking operation that spanned several counties and states.
Ricky Arlen Turner, 28, has been charged with one count of aiding and abetting racketeering-enterprise, one count of aiding and abetting concealing criminal proceeds, one count of engaging in sex trafficking and one count of promoting prostitution.
Brittany Marie Harenza, 25, has been charged with one count of aiding and abetting racketeering-enterprise and one count of aiding and abetting concealing criminal proceeds.
According to the criminal complaint, in January 2017 a detective with the Woodbury Police Department found an advertisement for commercial sex on the dating section of Backpage.com. As the escort section has been removed, several traffickers post to other sections of the website.
The posting was determined to be linked to Harenza.
Using the phone number on the advertisement, the detective learned that between Nov. 25, 2015 and May 15, 2017 more than 1,600 advertisements for sex were associated with the account linked to Harenza.
According to the criminal complaints, the ads were posted in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah. In Minnesota, they were posted in Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington Counties.
The criminal complaint states, the detective issued a subpoena and learned that the IP address that posted the advertisements traced back to an address on the 2800 block of McKenzie Point. Records showed that Harenza and a man, later identified as Turner, lived there.
Through months of investigating, detectives with Washington County learned that Turner classified himself as a “pimp,” and Harenza worked for him.
Social media accounts had postings showing large amounts of cash and captions dealing with trafficking of women for commercial sex. There are also music videos where Turner is rapping about gangs and prostitution.
Detectives said Turner created a company called Finesse the World, which he used Harenza to deposit large amounts of cash into. A website for the business appears to be a clothing store, but nothing has been listed for sale.
Additionally, according to the criminal complaint, Turner and Harenza would try to recruit girls to work for Turner.
After months of surveillance, detectives set up an undercover operation to catch Harenza and Turner in the act.
On May 15, detectives set up a date to meet with Harenza at a Woodbury hotel. She told them to bring $550 for two hours.
Upon arrival at the hotel, the detective met Harenza in a room. He gave her the money and while she began to undress, a team of officers arrested her.
Meanwhile, during the operation, officers apprehended Turner at the Minnetonka home.
Both Harenza and Turner are currently in custody. A forensic examination is pending.
If found guilty, Harenza faces up to 20 years in prison, a $1,000,000 fine or both for each charge. If Turner is found guilty, he could face up to 75 years in prison, or $2,080,000 in fines.