2 charged in sex trafficking operation in Edina, Richfield

Two men have been charged for their roles in a sex trafficking operation that brought Chinese women to Edina and Richfield, Minnesota, for commercial sex.

Sonam Tsering, 36, of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Zhaxi Taxing, 41, of St. Louis Park were each charged with sex trafficking. Tsering was also charged with promoting the prostitution of an individual and receiving profits from prostitution.

Officers first discovered the sex trafficking ring when they came across a commercial sex advertisement last November on backpages.com for an Asian woman. They called the number from the advertisement and the call center gave them the location of the victim.

According to the criminal complaint, the officer went the apartment he was directed to in Edina and was met by a woman in lingerie. He identified himself as a police officer and using a translator, interviewed the woman. The woman told police she came from China to New York before brought to the Twin Cities to work as a prostitute.

Officers eventually determined that Taxing was one of the main suspects. He was later seen moving items from the Edina apartment to another apartment in Richfield. Officers observed numerous men going in and out of the apartment and only staying a short period of time.

In January, investigators responded to another ad on backpage.com and were directed to the Richfield apartment, where the woman there admitted to engaging in prostitution. The woman told police that Tsering lived with her and she gave him the money she earned from prostitution. He was then supposed to pass it along to someone else in the sex trafficking organization.

Bank records show that in less than five months, Taxing had deposited more than $52,000 and Tsering had deposited more than $19,000 into their respective bank accounts.

This is a highly organized, illegal operation that stretched from coast-to-coast in the United States,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a statement. “These women are victims who were preyed upon by the sex-trafficking operators and we are going to do everything in our power to disrupt the commercial sex trade in Hennepin County.”