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Online sex trafficking sting nets 11 arrests in Dickinson

Federal and state law enforcement officers arrested 11 men over the weekend in Dickinson as part of an investigation where officers pose as online sex traffickers offering underage girls for sex.

The men were arrested in separate incidents, and are charged in federal court with attempted sex trafficking of children.

“Anyone who does not realize that our hometowns in western North Dakota are developing big-city crime problems has not been paying attention,” North Dakota U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon said.

“I’m very concerned with the number of arrests.”

A similar operation in Williston a month ago netted three arrests.

They are: Milton Davis, 50; Justin Hess, 32; Charles Hood, 43; Lawrence Hundley, 50; Clayton Lakey, 34; Justin Mattson, 41; Devin Schaner, 22; Ramont Thomas, 28; Rafael Torres, 32; Celestino Valle, 18; and Zachary Wolff, 21. Local court records show Schaner is from Mandan and Thomas is from Dickinson.

Dickinson police Chief Dustin Dassinger said a member of his department participated in the investigation and in carrying out the arrests.

Dassinger said the department has seen an increase in this type of crime, but couldn’t say whether it was because of the population boom, or because the department is being more proactive with its investigations and simply finding more.

According to court records, the men committed the alleged crimes between Thursday and Saturday, and were charged Friday and Monday.

A U.S. Marshals representative said the men are being held at Burleigh County or McLean County jails, or have been released on bond.