Gisela Castro Medina charged in child sex trafficking conspiracy linked to GOP donor

Gisela Castro Medina, of St. Paul, was arrested in Florida in connection to a Minnesota GOP strategist’s underage sex trafficking operation. (Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office)

A St. Paul woman has been indicted on federal sex trafficking charges for allegedly recruiting six minor victims to engage in commercial sex acts, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced.

Gisela Castro Medina, 19, was arrested in Florida on Aug. 12 on charges related to sex trafficking of minors and obstruction. Medina made her first court appearance Monday and will be transported to Minnesota where she will remain in custody.

According to the indictment, Castro Medina and co-defendant Anton Joseph Lazzaro, 30, conspired with each other and others to recruit and solicit six minor victims to engage in commercial sex acts. Castro Medina has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors, five counts of sex trafficking of minors, and one count of obstruction. 

Federal officials said that based on the evidence obtained in the investigation, authorities believe there may be additional victims of the alleged conduct. Anyone with information about this matter is encouraged to call the FBI Minneapolis Division at 763-569-8000.

Prior to her arrest, Gisela Castro Medina was a member of Minnesota College Republicans. The organization released a statement, confirming that Medina recently assumed the role of Chair for the University of St. Thomas chapter.

"We as an organization are absolutely disgusted by the actions of Ms. Medina, and have cut all ties with her effective immediately," the organization wrote in the release.

The University of St. Thomas also responded with a statement, saying, "The details of these allegations are very disturbing and saddening. St. Thomas condemns these actions and we pray for the victims. Under our student code of conduct, St. Thomas students charged with a felony will be interim suspended pending further proceedings." 

The arrest of Lazzaro, a close friend and donor to GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan, has thrown the Minnesota GOP into crisis. The fast-moving story intensified over the weekend, as Carnahan's critics campaigned against her on Twitter and the chairwoman battled back in a series of statements leading up to Sunday night's Executive Committee meeting.