Human Trafficking

Young person standing in front of mirror looking back

Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery,  in which person(s) engage in sexual exploitation through the use of force, fraud or coercion. It occurs in all communities throughout the United States, including Washington County. 

The most vulnerable women, men, and children are targeted by exploiters to engage in sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Traffickers target victims using  violence, threats, lies, false promises, debt bondage, or other forms of control and manipulation to keep victims involved in the sex industry for their own profit. Sexual exploitation is the exchange of sexual activity for some form of consideration (for example, money, shelter, drugs). Trafficking is when a third party is involved in exploitation, which may be through recruiting, controlling or profiting. The Washington County Attorney's office is working with community and state partners to end the practice of human trafficking.

Minnesota Sex Trafficking Law

MN. Stat. § 609.321 subd. 7a  Sex Trafficking means (1) "receiving, recruiting, enticing, harboring, providing, or obtaining by any means an individual to aid in the prostitution of the individual," or,  (2) "receiving profit or anything of value, knowing or having reason to know it is derived from [sex trafficking]."

Minnesota Labor Trafficking Law

MN. Stat. § 609.282 subd.1  Labor Trafficking means (1) "Whoever knowingly engages in the labor trafficking of an individual who is under the age of 18 is guilty of a crime and may be sentenced to imprisonment."

By the Numbers in Washington County

In 2022, Washington County and the East Metro Human Trafficking Task Force:



human traffickers



trafficking victims



people for solicitation of a minor for sex



cases and tips

Human trafficking is a problem hiding in plain sight.

During a underage sex sting in December 2022, 159 people answered an advertisement for sex with a person who was identified as a minor; seven people were arrested.

Students in Washington County

In 2019, the Minnesota Department of Education surveyed students in grades 9 and 11. Nearly 1 in 70 students responded that they had traded sex for something in exchange.

  1. What is Force, Fraud, Coercion

Force, fraud and coercion are the methods used by sex traffickers to press victims into lives of servitude and abuse. Examples are: 


Physical abuse, sexual abuse, confinement, kidnapping


False offers of employment, marriage, or better life


Threats against the victim and/or their family, debt-bondage, psychological abuse, manipulation, isolation

Under MN law, force, fraud or coercion is not required.

  1. How to Identify a Victim
  1. Minnesota Safe Harbor Legislation
  1. Helpful Resources for Victims
  1. Contact the East Metro Human Trafficking Task Force