Lyon Co. to join state task force on human trafficking

MARSHALL — The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office will be joining a statewide task force to investigate human trafficking.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Lyon County Board, Sheriff Eric Wallen presented county commissioners with a joint powers agreement to join the task force, which is being led by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

The joint powers agreement said the task force has a three-pronged approach to fighting human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children, with a focus on prevention, education and enforcement. Under the joint powers agreement, local law enforcement agencies that join the task force would investigate human trafficking crimes — something Wallen said the Sheriff’s Office already does in Lyon County. Task force members would also help with cross-jurisdictional investigations.

Wallen said being part of the Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force would be a little different from the Brown-Lyon-Redwood-Renville Drug Task Force, which the Sheriff’s Office is also a part of. However, being part of the Human Trafficking task force would allow the Sheriff’s Office to request funds from the BCA to help with investigations.

County commissioners approved the joint powers agreement. Commissioner Charlie Sanow said human trafficking investigation was a need in the area. A Minneapolis woman was arrested at the Prairie’s Edge Casino Hotel in September, for allegedly trafficking her teenage daughter.

Tina Renee Watley Oats was charged on Sept. 20 with promoting prostitution of a person under the age of 18, engaging in trafficking of a person under 18, and soliciting a person under 18 to practice prostitution. The next court date set for Oats is on Oct. 28, in Yellow Medicine County District Court.


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