Investigators with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension-led Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force headed the operation in partnership with the Tribes United Against Sex Trafficking (TRUST) Task Force, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office and the Bemidji Police Department, according to a news release. The operation ran from June 25 to 26.
The suspects responded to an advertisement placed on a sex ads website during the operation. Investigators arrested the suspects as they arrived at an arranged meeting place for a commercial sex crime. All were booked into the Beltrami County Jail on probable cause solicitation of prostitution of an adult. Charges are expected to be filed in the coming days.
The six suspects apprehended were:
- Michael Lee Eichstadt, 56, of Bemidji, Minn.
- Quint Kyle Ironnecklace, 24, of Bemidji, Minn.
- Lance Armon Jones, 39, of Oakville, Wash.
- Dennis Michael Murphy, 43, of Park Rapids, Minn. According to the release, Murphy also faces probable cause possession of a controlled substance.
- Matthew F. Senica, 49, of Illinois
- Philip Edward Toomey Jr., 48, of Maywood, Mo.
Other agencies and organizations that participated in this effort, according to the release, included The Link; the Buffalo, Fond du Lac, Hibbing, Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Thief River Falls and Upper Sioux police departments; the Red Lake Department of Public Safety; the Chisago, Hennepin and Isanti County sheriff’s offices; the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force; the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office and Homeland Security Investigations.
“This operation was part of our ongoing, collective commitment to rid our communities of sexual exploitation,” BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said in the release. “It is never OK to purchase another person for sex.”
Enbridge released a statement on Monday, June 28, explaining that the two Bemidji men arrested were working for a subcontractor on the Line 3 replacement project.
“Upon learning of their arrests, the employment of these two individuals was immediately terminated,” the statement said. “Enbridge and our contractors have zero tolerance for illegal and exploitative actions. That is why we are joining with our contractors and unions to denounce the illegal and exploitive actions of those who participate in sex trafficking.”
According to the statement, all Line 3 replacement project workers are required to complete human trafficking awareness training as part of their onboarding requirements as mandated in the route permit conditions issued by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
The Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force was established in 2017 with funding from the Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs as a statewide enforcement effort to target traffickers and those exploiting children for sex.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of being trafficked, call 911. To report a suspected trafficking situation, call the BCA at 877-996-6222 or email email@example.com.