(UPI) — More than 50 people were arrested for attempting to solicit children for sex or trafficking victims in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area this month during the NCAA Final Four, authorities said.
Twenty-eight people were from trafficking situations during the operation, including one minor, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in a statement Wednesday. The five-day sting netted 47 felony arrests for soliciting a minor or prostitutes under 16. Eleven people were arrested on probable cause for sex trafficking.
“This operation is an example of the aggressive steps necessary to stop traffickers and johns who buy and sell people for sex in our communities,” BCA Supt. Drew Evans said.
Officials said undercover agents posed as minors or sex buyers on social media platforms and arranged a meeting place.
“While the eyes of the basketball world were focused on the court at the U.S. Bank Stadium, some were attempting to hide in the shadows of our great community, trafficking and exploiting women and girls, inflicting unimaginable physical and emotional harm, and profiting from pain,” St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said.
Several victims advocate organizations including Alexandria House, Breaking Free and The Linkhave helped the women who were rescued.
A similar sting operation was done in January and February for the Super Bowl in Atlanta. Police there arrested 169 people over an 11-day period.
A Queens cop on her way to work rescued a badly-bleeding motorcyclist in a hit-and-run crash on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
Officer Mandeep Kaur was driving in her personal car to the 114th Precinct in Astoria when she spotted the woman on the eastbound shoulder of the highway, near Exit 43 in Woodside.
Kaur pulled over and told the 30-year-old woman to sit in the passenger seat while she called the 114th precinct to let her colleagues know she had stopped for an accident, and she’d be late for work.
After Kaur made the call, the motorcyclist told her her arm felt numb
Kaur helped her remove her leather jacket. “Blood started gushing out, and she was bleeding heavily,” the officer said.
She spotted a two-inch wound on the woman’s left arm, and quickly put her police academy training to use.
“The first thing from my training I remember is, if someone is heavily bleeding, you apply a tourniquet,” said Kaur. “I called the precinct again and I let them know she’s injured really badly, and to rush the ambulance.”
About 10 minutes later, an ambulance pulled up to take the woman to Elmhurst Hospital. She was reported in stable condition on Thursday night. Her name was not released.
The motorcyclist — who was on her way to work at a Con Ed facility in Astoria — told Kaur that a red tractor trailer without a license plate was switching lanes when it hit her and her bike. The driver did not stay on the scene, and cops said they were still looking for the vehicle Thursday evening.
EMTs said that Kaur’s decision to apply a tourniquet to the motorcyclist’s arm probably saved her life, the motorcyclist told the officer later.