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Get the Facts

Child sex trafficking is an issue so hidden from our public consciousness that the mere mention of it results in shock and denial. But, it’s true: Minnesota girls are being bought and sold for sex.

Many of us believe the sex trafficking of girls is something that happens only in distant nations. Or, if it does happen in our state, it only involves girls smuggled in from those faraway countries. Bottom line? The prostitution of girls is happening here, right now, in Minnesota — and it’s on the rise.


  • 12-14: Average age girls prostituted (trafficked) for sex are first victimized. 1
  • 83%: Percentage of total sex trafficked victims between 2008 and 2010 who were United States citizens. 2
  • 50+%: Domestic prostitution (sex trafficking) victims classified as runaway youth living on the street. 3
  • 55%: Approximate number of street girls who become entangled in prostitution networks. 3
  • 75%: Girls entangled in prostitution networks controlled by a sex trafficker or ‘pimp.’ 3
  • Domestic prostitution (sex trafficking) victims experience extreme violence, forced drug use and constant threats. 1
  • Girls not classified as runaways are often recruited through forced abduction, pressure from parents, or through deceptive agreements between parents and traffickers. 4
  • The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children conservatively estimates that 100,000 children are exploited each year for prostitution in the United States. 5
  • The Polaris Project conservatively estimates that a pimp with a “stable” of three girls or women often enforces an average nightly quota of $500, or $1,500 a night. If these quotas are met consistently, the pimp can make as much as $547,000 (or more) in a year ($1,500 a night x 365 nights a year = $547,500).
  • Since 2006, the U.S. Department of Education has focused on the problem and worked on training with several schools. In doing so, they collaborate with the White House, the FBI, the Departments of State and Justice as well as other agencies.10

Stages of Sex Trafficking


  • The FBI has identified the Twin Cities as one of 13 U.S. cities with a high incidence rate of child prostitution. 6
  • By very conservative measures, a November 2010 study found that each month in Minnesota at least 213 girls are sold for sex an average of five times per day through the Internet and escort services. This number does not include hotel, street or gang activity. 7
  • A November 2010 study found that on any given weekend night in Minnesota, 45 girls under age 18 are sold for sex through the internet classified websites and escort services. 7
  • In 2010, investigators from three states determined that Minneapolis was the home base of a large domestic prostitution (sex trafficking) ring comprised of three generations of one Minnesota family that was prostituting (trafficking) mostly young girls across the United States. 8
  • About 50% of adult women interviewed as part of a 2010 study focused on North Minneapolis stated that they first traded sex when they were under the age of 18, with the average age at 13. 9
  • In just one 72-hour sting over the summer, an FBI-led operation rescued 105 children and netted 152 pimps in 76 cities nationwide, including four alleged pimps in the Twin Cities.


1. U. S. Department of Justice, Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Child Prostitution.

2. Duren Banks and Tracey Kyckelhahn, “Characteristics of Suspected Human Trafficking Incidents, 2008-2010,” U.S. Department of Justice.

3. Richard J. Estes and Neil Weiner, “The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children In the U. S., Canada and Mexico,” University of Pennsylvania, February 2002.

4. Francis T. Miko, “Trafficking in Persons: The U.S. and International Response,” Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division, July 2006.

5. Ernie Allen, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Testimony at Victims’ Rights Caucus Human, Trafficking Caucus, U.S. House of Representatives, July 19, 2010

6. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Efforts to Combat Crimes Against Children, Chapter 4: Non-Cyber Sexual Exploitation of Children.

7. The Schapiro Group, “Adolescent Girls in the United States Sex Trade. Tracking Study Results for November 2010

8. Chao Xiong and Allie Shah, StarTribune, “Somali Gang Linked to Minnesota Sex Ring,” September 23, 2010

9. Martin, L. (2010). The prostitution project: Community-based research on sex trading in north Minneapolis. CURA Reporter, Fall-Winter 2010.

10. Yamiche Alcindor, USA Today, “Sex trafficking in the USA hits close to home,” September 27, 2012