Charges: Lake Minnetonka prostitution ring recruited women at bus stops
MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - More criminal charges have been filed against a Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, man suspected of running a sex trafficking operation out of a Lake Minnetonka home that allegedly involved at least 35 women.
Ricky Arlen Turner, 28, was charged Thursday with two counts each of sex trafficking of an individual and promoting prostitution of an individual. Turner is currently in the Washington County jail under similar charges for a multi-state prostitution ring, with solicitation through websites like Backpage.com.
The raid of the home on McKenzie Point on Lake Minnetonka was first reported by Fox 9. Officers seized computers, ledgers and documents outlining their business, which at one point was even a registered corporation in Minnesota.
Detectives traced a phone number on Backpage to 25-year-old Brittany Harenza, identifying her trafficker as Ricky Turner Jr. through their multiple Facebook posts together. The duo oftentimes poses together in pictures and videos, referring to each other as “King Finesse” and “Finesse Bunnie,” with Turner oftentimes referring to himself as a “pimp.”
The criminal complaint against Turner outlines the months-long law enforcement investigation into what they believe is a multi-state enterprise, featuring conspicuous social media posts and up to 35 women in 14 states, including Minnesota, California, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York, Texas, Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina, Utah, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas and Florida.
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Woodbury police executed an administrative subpoena on Backpage and discovered 1,600 ads involving more than 35 women from November 2015 to May 15, 2017, and all were associated with Harenza’s number.
The criminal complaint identifies Harenza as a “bottom,” described as the trafficker’s trusted business partner who also acts as a sex worker, oftentimes recruiting and training other women, posting ads and ultimately sharing in the profits.
Investigators conducted surveillance on Turner and Harenza’s rented home on Lake Minnetonka, making note of many visitors over short time periods, especially at a detached guest house on the property.
Minnetonka police, in conjunction with other law enforcement, also found two other women who worked for Turner. One of them said Turner and Harenza approached her at a bus stop in November and told her how she could make money as a prostitute. Turner allegedly forced the woman to live at the Lake Minnetonka home and would beat her if she tried to leave. He also allegedly took her to another state and forced her to work there. The woman said she earned more than $100,000 in the four months she worked for Turner and was forced to turn over nearly all the money to him.
During an undercover text conversation with a person believed to be Harenza, police were given a price of $300 an hour, with a rate of $500 an hour for two women.
Officers conducted a sting operation, arresting Harenza at a hotel in Woodbury, Minn.
A subsequent sting at the couple’s property in Minnetonka found Turner in his car with two underage females who reported to police they had been asked to work for him and were promised “a lot of money and cars,” according to the complaint.
He later admitted to teaching Harenza “the game” and that he had received money from his commercial sex business. He also said Harenza doesn’t give him physical money, instead depositing it into bank accounts.
Other women were on 90-day agreements, giving him a percentage of their earnings, “which is sometimes 20 grand, sometimes 15,” he told police.
Harenza was charged with aiding and abetting a racketeering enterprise and concealing criminal proceeds, and faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.
Turner was previously charged with four counts, including aiding and abetting a racketeering enterprise, concealing criminal proceeds, sex trafficking of minors and promoting prostitution. He has a long rap sheet full of armed robberies, and a few years ago he was one of 150 people arrested nationwide in a massive FBI sweep that focused on pimps—but from what Fox 9 investigators have been told, he was never charged with a crime in that case.