Eden Prairie police save teen from Arizona sex trafficker

- The quick actions of several Eden Prairie police officers helped federal investigators catch an Arizona man for sex trafficking.

Matthew Lyons, 23, was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in federal prison for trying to bus a Minnesota teenager to Arizona. Lyons met the 16-year-old girl through a dating site and paid for her ticket to live with him near Tuscon.

"I think he exploited women going through a tough time,” said Detective Carter Staaf, with Eden Prairie Police. “He's extremely suave. You have to have a little charisma to find a way to bring people into this environment."

Staaf was instrumental in putting Lyons behind bars. He and several other officers rescued the girl off the bus before it left Minnesota. Police say the girl was dropped at an Eden Prairie bus station in January last year by a group of friends. They got nervous about where she was going, so they called authorities

"It was this man down in Sierra Vista luring this 16-year-old down for prostitution,” said Staaf. “He would run her. He would be her pimp or sex trafficker."

Lyons was already on the radar of Arizona investigators. He was accused of luring a woman from Utah and trafficking her. She later managed to escape.

"This is what our 16-year-old was going down to,” said Staaf. “This is what this child - it could have been her life. She could have stepped off that bus and been greeted, had her head shaved, been tattooed forever and brought into a life of sex slavery."

Detective Staaf says the extensive training law enforcement now receives on how to recognize a sex trafficking victim is vital in saving lives.

"She's a smart kid, she's a wonderful kid,” said Staaf. “I spoke to her yesterday. She's doing good, but what if she wasn't sharp that day and he was able to manipulate her and take advantage of her. This would have been her life."

Eden Prairie police along with departments across the state are gearing up to fight the number one sex trafficking event in our country, the Super Bowl, which will be held at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis in February.
 

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