Minneapolis man guilty of sex-trafficking, sentenced to 20 years in prison

Monday,

A Hennepin County District Court jury convicted a Minneapolis man on two counts of sex-trafficking, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Monday.

Lee Edward Smith, Jr., 22, was found guilty on Friday morning and sentenced to 108 months in prison for count one and 240 months for count two, to be served concurrently. The second count represents an upward departure because one of the victims was a vulnerable adult. The trial lasted three day and the jury deliberated for several hours before reaching its verdict.

According to the criminal complaint, on Aug. 4, 2017, a Minneapolis police investigator learned of a woman being advertised for sex on Backpage.com. The investigator called the advertised number and was told to go to a residence on the 3600 block of Nicollet Ave. S. The investigator set up surveillance in a place where he could watch the building and contacted the phone number. He then saw a woman come out of a house nearby and when she didn’t see anyone, texted the investigator and admitted she was the woman he was seeking.

On Aug. 14, the investigators saw another ad using the same phone number. As they were setting up surveillance again, they saw a john come out of the apartment building and they interviewed him. He admitted he had gone there for sex for hire, the complaint states.

With that information, police searched the apartment and found Smith, who was arrested. Several women were also in the apartment and they acknowledged that Smith or his girlfriend set up the ads and arranged the sexual encounters and that they turned the money they made over to him, according to the complaint