Eight more men face charges in a sting conducted in North St. Paul in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl this past winter that targeted pursuers of underage sex with online advertisements, authorities say.
That brings the total number of people charged in the undercover operation to 17.
The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office filed criminal complaints against nine of the men last week. Eight more have been charged so far this week, court records show.
Most of those arrested were charged with engaging in electronic communication relating to or describing conduct with a child, the complaints said.
A few are also accused of solicitation of a child or someone believed to be a child through electronic means.
Those charged Monday include Bryce Mitchell Unto Olson, 27, of Monticello; Adam James Sellers, 28, of Illinois, Daniel Hakina Guya, 22, of Washington state; Larry Jacob Stiele, 35 of Minneapolis; James Joseph Judge, 47 of Minneapolis, Ernest William Ahrens, 35, of St. Paul; Daniel John Mallet, 45 of St. Paul, and Aryeh Leiv Cohen, 44, of St. Louis Park.
No attorneys were listed for the men in court records Tuesday morning.
Authorities with the Minnesota Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force working alongside agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and North St. Paul police conducted the sting during the last weeks of January, legal documents say.
In most of the cases, the men responded to ads posted on Craiglist by undercover agents posing as young women seeking casual connections, the complaints said.
When the men responded, the agent shifted gears and revealed that she had lied in the advertisement to get around Craiglist’s rules and was in fact underage, in most cases either 14 or 15 years old. In one instance, a man responded to an ad posted on Plenty of Fish that explicitly stated the poster was a 14-year-old girl, according to legal documents. Two others responded to ads posted on Grindr.
Those charged continued conversing with the undercover agents after learning the “girl,” or, in one case “boy,” was actually a minor, and subsequently made arrangements to meet in person at a North St. Paul apartment to engage in sexual conduct, the complaints said.
The men were arrested when they arrived at the residence.
Those charged last week include: Andrew Allen Swain, 25, of Minneapolis; Leon Wesley Jacox, 23, of Minneapolis; Jeremy Mitchell Osterhout, 30, of New Hope; Enrique Belizar Lopez Ordonez, 33, of Lake City; Lonnie John Jordan, 44, of Nowthen; Zachary Allen Miranowski, 23, of Andover; Luke Charles Shackleton, 28, of Knapp, Wis.; Norberto Hernandez-Pena, 45 of Eagan; and Byron Russell Peterson, 60, of Eagan.
Only Swain, Peterson and Judge have been charged with solicitation of a child or someone believed to be a child in the sting.
Upon their arrest, some of the men admitted that they knew they were planning to meet a minor for sex. Others declined to speak to investigators or said they hadn’t sought out sexual interactions with minors but only found themselves caught up with one after they responded to an ad they initially believed was posted by an adult.
In some cases, the men agreed to write apology letters to the minor’s parents, still unaware that the “minor” they thought they were meeting was actually an undercover agent.
All of the men are expected to make their first appearance on the charges in September.