A Ramsey County judge sentenced two men to more than 21 years in prison Monday for their roles in sex trafficking two young women in St. Paul this summer.
Fonati McArthur Diggs, 24, of Northfield, received a 274-month sentence and Timothy Denzel Cross, 20, of St. Paul, was sentenced to 254 months.
The victims, aged 17 and 18, took a bus from Duluth to St. Paul on June 15. The men drove the young women to a Super 8 motel, where they were threatened and forced to have sex with multiple men, according to the criminal complaint.
On June 16, the 17-year-old girl was brought to a St. Paul apartment complex and told to find men to have sex for money. She used a cell phone to call police and escaped.
Nine days later, the 18-year-old victim was found by police at the apartment of Cross' girlfriend. The victim told police that she'd been forced to have sex with at least ten men for money in the prior week. She said Cross punched her and threatened her with a gun and Diggs choked her.
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said the sentences may be the longest in Minnesota history handed down for sex trafficking.
"This is one of the greatest human rights atrocities right before our eyes, it's involving the buying and selling of children, young girls and young women for sex," Choi said. "That's a horrible crime, so we've been doing everything we can to prosecute those who are involved in the trafficking."
Choi said the county's approach in recent sex trafficking cases has been to work hard to find victims and build trust with them.
"We're not prosecuting young girls or women who are being prostituted anymore in Ramsey County and throughout the state," Choi said. "As part of the law enforcement effort, from the moment we first had contact with them, we've been trying to help them to get connected to the appropriate social service agency."
Both Diggs and Cross were found guilty of sex trafficking in the first and second degree on July 25 in Ramsey County District Court. Cross was also convicted of assault and illegal possession of a gun.