Duluth prostitution sting nets arrest of 15 men, including pimp
By Tom Olsen Duluth News Tribune A prostitution sting conducted through a classified advertisement website has netted 15 arrests in the Duluth area. Members of the Duluth Police Department and Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force condu...
By Tom Olsen
Duluth News Tribune
A prostitution sting conducted through a classified advertisement website has netted 15 arrests in the Duluth area.
Members of the Duluth Police Department and Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force conducted the operation Wednesday and Thursday at a local hotel after placing an advertisement on the website Backpage.com.
Using two undercover female officers, authorities nabbed 13 men for soliciting sex, Lt. Jeff Kazel said. In a related operation, police also arrested a suspected pimp and a prostitute who had advertised on Backpage.
Kazel said the operation underscores the need to crack down on online venues that make it easier than ever for pimps and prostitutes to connect with johns.
“Technology has definitely given it a boost,” Kazel said. “There is a growing trend for this and it definitely needs attention.”
Police said 42-year-old Jason Michael Stone and 32-year-old Lee Vang were arrested Wednesday after an undercover officer responded to a post on Backpage advertising Vang.
Stone faces preliminary charges of second-degree sex trafficking and first- and second-degree sale of methamphetamine. Police said he had 25 grams of meth in his possession when arrested.
Vang was formally charged Friday with prostitution in a public place. She’s also facing a federal probation violation.
The 13 other suspects, all men ranging in age from 26 to 61, were formally charged Friday with misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution in public.
Police said the defendants all responded to an advertisement placed on Backpage. Meeting with two undercover female officers at a hotel, they were arrested after arranging payment for sexual services.
Kazel noted that many of the suspects have no substantial criminal history and several have families.
“Prostitution affects a wide spectrum of people,” Kazel said. “You hear people say it’s a victimless crime. It’s not. It affects relationships, marriages, children.”
Websites like Backpage, he said, have made it easier than ever for enterprising pimps to make money. While Backpage officially has a ban on advertisements for prostitutes, it is nevertheless often cited as as a leading site for prostitution advertisements - as well as law enforcement stings.
In most cases, Kazel said, pimps are engaged in other illegal activities, such as drug sales.
“It’s become a criminal enterprise,” he said. “They’ve taken advantage of a lot of people.”
The 13 men arrested for allegedly soliciting sex made initial appearances in State District Court in Duluth on Friday. They are:
Wayne Morris Everett, 61, of Cloquet
Reid William Nichols, 26, address unknown
Nicholas Chyi-jye Wang, 26, of Eagan, Minn.
Allen Gene Kniep, 29, of Duluth
David Leroy Denasha, 26, of Duluth
Brian Scott Kirsh, 47, of Duluth
Matthew James Robbins, 37, of Grasston, Minn.
Jeffrey Harris Wilensky, 40, of Atlanta
Allan Anthony Polkowski, 59, address unknown
Scott Stanley Chilberg, 34, of Duluth
Mark Edward Morin, 45, of Eveleth
Sade Tony Hayes, 29, of Duluth
Justin John Douglas Van Overmeiren, 31, of Superior