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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of North Dakota

Monday, May 9, 2016

Minneapolis Man Sentenced for Transporting Women for Prostitution

FARGO - U. S. Attorney Christopher C. Myers announced that on May 9, 2016, Ronnel Johnson, 31, Minneapolis, Minn., was sentenced before U. S. District Judge Ralph R. Erickson to serve three (3) years and four (4) months years in prison for Transportation for the Purposes of Prostitution. Judge Erickson also ordered that Johnson serve five (5) years supervised release and he must pay a $100 special assessment to the Crime Victims’ Fund.

This case came to the attention of law enforcement after the North Dakota Highway Patrol stopped a rental vehicle driven by Johnson on I-94 near Valley City, North Dakota. Johnson and his female passenger were traveling from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Williston, North Dakota. When interviewed by law enforcement during the traffic stop, Johnson and his passenger gave conflicting stories about the purpose of their trip to Williston. A subsequent search of the vehicle revealed cell phones which contained text messages sent and received by Johnson which revealed that he was involved in directing prostitution. Johnson’s cell phone also revealed sexually explicit photographs of at least two women that were identical to photographs that ran in Backpage.com advertisements for commercial sex in western North Dakota.

One such victim depicted in photographs that were recovered from Johnson’s cell phone and the Backpage.com advertisement reported that Johnson had previously transported her to Williston, North Dakota, for the purpose of prostitution.

This case was investigated by the North Dakota Highway Patrol, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Minneapolis Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Assistant U. S. Attorney Jennifer Puhl prosecuted the case.

Human Trafficking
Updated May 9, 2016