BRAINERD, Minn. -- The first law enforcement prostitution sting operation in Brainerd and the fifth in Crow Wing County since May resulted in the arrests of four men Thursday.
In a news release Friday, the Brainerd Police Department reported the arrests came as part of an undercover operation at a Brainerd hotel with the Brainerd Lakes Area Sex Trafficking Team. Booked in the Crow Wing County Jail awaiting court appearances on gross misdemeanor soliciting prostitution in a public place are Scott David Dinham, 50, Winthrop, Wash., and Chadwick Paul Schwerdtfeger, 40, Waupaca, Wis.
Law enforcement made contact with two other men as a result of the sting-a 27-year-old Ironton man and a 35-year-old Baxter man. Formal charges are pending against the two men.
The men responded to online advertisements for escort services and then engaged in conversations and interaction with undercover police officers, where they solicited sex in exchange for money.
"The results continue to show the problem that exists," the release states.
The four men arrested in the latest sting join 16 others charged in 2015 in Crow Wing County as part of a focus by area law enforcement on sex trafficking in the region.
In an interview in September, Baxter Police Chief Jim Exsted said reduction of demand for paid sex is at the crux of local law enforcement stings, although the broader goal includes identifying the traffickers feeding that demand.
"We'll continue to work the solicitation angle with the johns, and continue to work on trying to root out the traffickers and get them charged as well. We've known right from the start that that would be difficult and time consuming," Exsted said.
Officers working together on the Brainerd sting were from the Baxter and Brainerd police departments and the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office.