Here are the names and ages of those charged:
-- Thomas William Evans, 25, of St. Paul
-- Ishmael Jamaine Williams, 21, of St. Paul
-- Suwan Dominique Cross, 19, of West St. Paul
-- Doris Marie Keller, 38, of St. Paul
-- Yolanda Katrice Foster, 28, of St. Paul
Each of the suspects faces seven trafficking-related charges, including first-degree engaging in sex trafficking. (Cross is the only suspect not currently in custody; her mugshot accompanying this post is from a previous arrest.)
According to the complaints, the suspects trafficking girls via posts on Backpage.com and by making them walk the streets in search of johns.
The 16-year-old, identified in the complaint as D.D.D., was recruited into the trafficking operation last July, when Evans and Williams approached her and a 17-year-old identified as K.C.R. at 1541 Maryland Avenue East in St. Paul and told the girls they needed to "get on some real money."
When the girls asked what that meant, Evans and Williams said, "basically sell [your]self," the complaint says. They got in a truck with the men, and a couple days later were taken to a hotel in Maplewood where they were told they were going to "hit their first lick."
At the hotel the next day, the two girls performed sexual acts on one john, for which they were paid $200. Per their instructions, they allegedly gave the money to Williams.
D.D.D. talked to investigators after the trafficking ring was busted following a St. Paul Police Department sting operation in September. She estimated being trafficking out of more than 10 hotels in the Twin Cities area during the summer.
She said Williams provided food, clothing, and shelter for her and K.C.R., but was also physically violent toward them, including incidents where he struck her with a belt and punched her in the face for talking to another man. K.C.R. said Evans would control the girls with verbal and physical intimidation and by giving them drugs.
A 20-year-old woman who was also a victim of the trafficking operation, L.M.C., told investigators she worked for Evans for just over a month. She said she'd meet with approximately seven johns a day and make between $400 and $500 for Evans in the process.
To read the full complaint for yourself, click here.
In a press release, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi says, "This was a well-organized sex trafficking operation, funded entirely by men paying for sex with vulnerable girls and young women in our community."
"While I am very grateful for the dedicated work of the law enforcement community, specifically the St. Paul Police Department and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, today's charges are a glaring reminder that men in our community still think it is okay to purchase human beings for sex and that traffickers are all too eager to oblige," he continues.