Sex Trafficking Operation During Sturgis Leads to Six Arrests
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally brings in all kinds of people every year. Most are wonderful while others seek more depraved fulfillment. A joint law enforcement operation during the rally led to the arrest of six men.
According to the Rapid City Journal, the South Dakota Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce, the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, Pennington County Sheriff's Office, and Rapid City Police Department combined forces to get online predators off the street.
The operation involved members of law enforcement placing advertisements on websites and mobile apps, using the persona of underage children, to communicate with potential predators. Apps used included Skout, MeetMe, and Whisper.
One of the men charged, 36-year-old Clayton John Paulson of Spearfish, contacted a 15-year-old persona on Whisper. According to the arrest affidavit:
"Over the course of the conversations Paulson was suspicious this was a law enforcement sting and asked for pictures in an attempt determine if this was a law enforcement operation," the affidavit states. "On August 12, 2021, Paulson and the 15-year-old persona agreed to meet in the area of West Middle School in Rapid City. Paulson arrived driving a pick up pulling a trailer as he described in the chat communications."
Paulson was arrested, admitting that he sent inappropriate messages to a 15-year-old, but denied ever having the intention of having sex with her. He pleaded not guilty.
Others charged in the operation are 36-year-old Jesse James Young f Box Elder, Stephen Gregory Fontenot Jr., of Black Hawk, 20-year-old James Dean Hanapel who is listed only as being in the United States Air Force, Christopher Thomas Dahl, and Anthony James Kemp.
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