Accused leader of 'large-scale' sex trafficking operation receives 14 years in prison
One of two people accused of running a sex trafficking ring out of a Twin Cities suburb was sentenced to 14 years in prison for his role in what prosecutors described as a "large-scale" operation spanning multiple states.
Ricky Turner Jr., 29, pleaded guilty to a felony aiding and abetting racketeering Thursday in a Washington County court, where he was convicted of that charge as well as felony promotion of prostitution.
Brittany Harenza, a 26-year-old Champlin woman, also faces felony racketeering and concealing criminal proceeds charges stemming from the alleged operation.
According to the Washington County criminal complaint filed in May, a subpoena from Backpage.com revealed at least 35 women who appeared in posts believed to advertise commercial sex linked to Harenza's internet IP address.
A Woodbury detective contacted Harenza to arrange meeting her at a local hotel as part of an undercover operation including St. Paul, Oakdale, Cottage Grove and Eden Prairie police.
Authorities arrested Harenza after undercover officers gave her $550, as had been arranged through text messages on May 16.
Turner was arrested later that day in a police raid of the couple's Minnetonka home. Authorities said a minor the couple recruited was present at the home during the arrest.
The court dismissed a felony charge of trafficking a minor as part of Turner's plea agreement.
Turner faces four additional felony charges in Hennepin County, including two counts of engaging in sex trafficking, two counts of promoting prostitution.
St. Paul police also arrested him as part of a nationwide sex-trafficking sweep in 2013.
Harenza's next court appearance is scheduled for January in Washington County.