Man convicted in national sex-trafficking operation with Twin Cities’ hub
A Hennepin County District Court jury found a Plymouth man guilty of four counts against him in a sex-trafficking operation that brought Chinese women into Edina and Richfield for commercial sex, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Monday.
Sonam Tsering, 37, was found guilty of one count of promotion of prostitution, one count of receiving profits from prostitution and two of sex trafficking. The jury also found grounds on all counts to allow for a more severe sentence.
“This was a highly organized, illegal operation that stretched from coast-to-coast in the United States,” Freeman said. “We are pleased with the jury verdict. The women, who are victims, were preyed upon by Mr. Tsering and others, and we did everything in our power to disrupt this sex-trafficking operation in Hennepin County.”
According to the criminal complaint, Bloomington police were investigating prostitution in November 2016 and came across an ad for commercial sex of an Asian woman on backpage.com. The investigators had dealt with other Asian human trafficking organizations and this one seemed similar so they called the number.
The officer was directed to an apartment in Edina and was met by a woman in lingerie. After identifying himself as a police officer, he tried to interview the woman, but she spoke only Chinese. A translator was arranged and the woman said she came from China to New York before being brought to the Twin Cities to work as a prostitute, the complaint states.
In January of 2017, investigators responded to another ad in backpage.com and were sent to a Richfield apartment, where the woman there admitted to engaging in prostitution. She told police that Tsering lived with her and she gave him the money she earned from prostitution, the complaint states. In less than five months, Tsering deposited more than $19,000 in his bank account.
Tsering’s co-defendant in the operation, Zhaxi Taxing, pleaded guilty in January to a count of sex trafficking of an individual. He will be sentenced Aug. 6.
Tsering was taken into custody after the jury verdict and will be held without bail. His sentencing is scheduled for August 14.
The jury also found that there were three or more offenders involved in the crime and on two of the counts, there was more than one victim. As a result, the prosecution can ask for, and the judge could sentence Tsering, to a prison term higher than what the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines state.