Minneapolis Man Pleads Guilty to Human Trafficking of a Minor
FARGO - US Attorney Christopher C. Myers announced that on October 31, 2016, Steven Edward Meierding, 50, Minneapolis, Minn., pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Erickson to One Count of Sex Trafficking of a Child.
This case came to the attention of law enforcement after the Fargo Police Department encountered a 17-year-old runaway during a traffic stop. Further investigation by Department of Homeland Security Investigators and a Fargo Police Department Detective revealed that Meierding transported the 17-year-old girl from Minneapolis, MN, to Fargo, ND, for the purpose of prostitution. Specifically, Meierding met the 17-year-old girl at a gas station in Minneapolis and subsequently took her to his residence where he took photos of her that were later used in Backpage.com advertisements for commercial sex. Sometime between May 2015 and June 15, 2015, Meierding then transported the underage girl to Fargo where he dropped her off at a residence where his co-defendant, Brenda Godoy, was residing. Meierding returned to Minneapolis, but before he could return to Fargo to pick up the underage girl, she was recovered by the Fargo Police Department during the above-mentioned traffic stop. Electronic evidence recovered during the investigation further revealed that Meierding and his co-defendant received a portion of the proceeds that the underage girl obtained as a result of engaging in commercial sex acts.
Judge Erickson has set sentencing for January 24, 2017, at the US District Court in Fargo ND.
This case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations, Fargo Police Department, and the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Puhl is prosecuting the case.
This case was prosecuted with the assistance of the North Dakota Human Trafficking Task Force (NDHTTF), which includes regional response teams that consist of federal, state, and local law enforcement and victim service providers working together to identify and rescue human trafficking victims as well as investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases. Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, BCI, and the North Dakota Counsel on Abused Women Services (CAWS), the NDHTTF is dedicated to addressing the individualized needs of human trafficking victims and the apprehension, investigation, and prosecution of the perpetrators of human trafficking.