MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Five metro residents were charged Tuesday in connection to a multi-state sex trafficking ring, according to the Ramsey County Attorney’s office.
Four of the five defendants are from St. Paul (pictured left to right): 25-year-old Thomas William Evans, 28-year-old Yolanda Katrice Foster, 38-year-old Doris Marie Keller and 21-year-old Ishmael Jamaine Williams.
The fifth defendant, 19-year-old Suwan Dominique Cross (far right), is from West St. Paul. Cross is the only defendant who is not currently in custody.
Each defendant is charged with two counts of first-degree sex trafficking, three counts of second-degree sex trafficking and two counts of conspiracy to commit a felony.
There are at least five victims who range in age from 16 to 24. One victim was forced to have sex with about seven men a day, with all profits — $400 to $500 daily — allegedly going to Evans, according to the criminal complaint.
St. Paul Police rescued a 17-year-old victim last September at a home on the 900 block of Cook Street. The girl was listed on Backpage.com as “Ms. Juicy,” and an undercover officer set up a date via text messages.
All five defendants were at the home or nearby when officers arrived, and all denied any knowledge of the sex trafficking operation.
Officers arrived the next day with a search warrant, and several cell phones and Vanilla Visa gift cards — commonly used in the sex trafficking trade because of their difficulty to trace — were found at the home.
Several of the cards were found to have been used to purchase ads on Backpage.com for sex trafficking in several states, including Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, Georgia and Kentucky.
“This was a well-organized sex trafficking operation, funded entirely by men paying for sex with vulnerable girls and young women in our community,” Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said. “Today’s charges are a glaring reminder that men in our community still think it is okay to purchase human beings for sex and that traffickers are all too eager to oblige.”
The defendants — with the exception of Cross — will make their first court appearance Wednesday in Ramsey County District Court.