MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A St. Paul man and woman have been found guilty of engaging in sex trafficking of a 15-year-old girl.
According to the Ramsey County Attorney's Office, Jonathan Edwards, 25, and Kauser Yusuf, 22, were found guilty of one count each of first-degree sex trafficking of a minor.
According to the criminal complaint, on Nov. 25, 2013 the Human Trafficking Unit received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children stating they had received an email from a possible juvenile sex trafficking victim.
The email came from backpage.com, which is known to officials as a common place for prostitution advertisements.
According to the criminal complaint, the email claimed to be from a 15-year-old who said people were posting pictures of her in an advertisement and making her have sex with the men that responded to the ad.
Officials were able to determine that the ad had been created from an email address belonging to Yusuf.
They also tracked a phone number listed in the ad as one belonging to Yusuf.
Further investigation revealed that the ad was placed from a URL which originated at a residence in the 600 block of Edmund Avenue in St. Paul.
According to the criminal complaint, police went to do a welfare check on the possible victim at the address on Edmund Avenue.
Upon arrival, officers found Edwards and Yusuf but did not locate the teenager. Officers did note that a blow up mattress was located behind a black sheet that separated the front room from the mattress.
Officers were eventually able to locate the victim.
During an interview she told them she had met Edwards and Yusuf in July of 2013.
Police said the girl told them Edwards and Yusuf picked her up in St. Paul and drove her to a hotel in Maplewood the day they met.
According to the criminal complaint, in the hotel Edwards had her dress up in lingerie and took pictures of her using a cell phone.
The teenager said Edwards and Yusuf took her back to the place on Edmund Ave. and she stayed there while the two had men come over to the house to have sex with her.
Police said the girl claimed the men would pay Edwards or Yusuf and she did not get any of the money. She estimated she had sex with seven to 20 men a day.
On Dec. 9, 2013 investigators obtained a search warrant for the residence on Edmund Ave. and carried out the search warrant on Dec. 10.
During the search, officials found a number of items, including the cell phone used to take the pictures of the girl and the computer used to create the ad.
According to the criminal complaint, investigators also found photos of the girl wearing the same outfit that she had on in the Backpage ad.
After being arrested, Yusuf admitted to knowing the girl but denied engaging in sex trafficking. In his interview after being arrested, Edwards denied even knowing the girl.
The two were found guilty Tuesday in court.
Both Yusuf and Edwards will face sentencing on Feb. 27.
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