Four men were charged this week following their arrests Friday during a human trafficking operation in St. Louis County. The one-day operation targeted people attempting to buy a minor for sex, according to a news release from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
The operation was a partnership between investigators with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force and the Tribes United Against Sex Trafficking Task Force and the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office.
Three of the men, Melvin Eugene Brown, 43, of Duluth; Mitchell Todd Pelkey, 22, of Hermantown; and Scott Robert Wermter, 47, of Hawthorne, Wisconsin, were charged with felony solicitation of a minor for prostitution.
George Stephan Myers, 59, Embarrass, was charged with solicitation of an adult for prostitution, a gross misdemeanor.
During the operation, suspects chatted with undercover agents and investigators on several sex advertisement websites. Investigators arrested the suspects as they arrived at an arranged meeting place to pay a victim for sex. All were booked into the St. Louis County Jail and later released.
Several other agencies provided resources and expertise to this effort, including the Anoka and Hennepin County sheriff’s offices; Fond du Lac, Fridley, Leech Lake Tribal, Hibbing, Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments; and Homeland Security Investigations.
“We will not tolerate victimization of our women, men and children,” BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said in the news release. “Purchasing another person for sex has no place in Minnesota.”
“The commitment of resources to this operation was an easy decision,” St. Louis County Undersheriff Jason Lukovsky said in the release. “These people are not looking for relationships, they are preying on victims within our community.”
The human trafficking investigators task force was established in 2017 as a statewide effort to target traffickers and those exploiting children for sex.