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St. Thomas GOP Chair Gisela Castro Medina Arrested In Florida On Sex Trafficking Charges

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - The newly elected chair of University of St. Thomas' College Republicans was arrested in Florida on sex trafficking charges, according to FBI Minneapolis.

Jail records show that Gisela Castro Medina faces charges for conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors, sex trafficking of a minor, and obstruction. She was arrested on Thursday night and was transferred to federal custody on Friday.

Minnesota College Republicans said in a statement that Castro Medina was arrested alongside Anton "Tony" Lazzaro on Thursday. The organization said it is "absolutely disgusted by the actions of Ms. Medina, and have cut all ties with her effective immediately."

The statement goes on to say that though she had been recently elected as chair of the University of St. Thomas' chapter, Castro Medina was not an active member nor had she officially started working for MNCR. St. Thomas, condemned the allegations, calling them "disturbing and saddening."

Nia Moore, the chair of the Minnesota College Republicans, says she never met Castro Medina. Moore says she takes seriously the party's stance of standing with victims of sex trafficking.
"It would be incredibly irresponsible of me to not come out and support victims that were brave enough to come out against their abuser," she said.

Anton "Tony" Lazzaro, 30, was arrested and indicted on Thursday on federal sex trafficking charges for allegedly recruiting six minors to engage in commercial sex acts, according to the U.S. Attorney's office. He was arrested by the FBI in Minneapolis and will make his first court appearance next week. Lazzaro's attorney said his client is being falsely accused.

An apparent connection between Lazzaro and Castro Medina involves a company called Minnesota Property Management. Lazzaro is the registered agent, and Castro Medina works there, according to her social media pages. The accounts also say she graduated from Delano schools.

The attorney's office said Lazzaro worked "with others" to recruit and solicit his victims. A since-deleted Instagram post by Castro Medina showed the two of them sitting next to each other at a large dinner in May.

Lazzaro is "deeply involved" in party politics; federal campaign finance records show he has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates and causes, including to the Minnesota GOP, U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, and U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn. Emmer, Hagedorn, and others have since said they will donate the contributions Lazzaro made to charity.

However his ties to Minnesota GOP chair Jennifer Carnahan have put her under scrutiny in the last few days.

Carnahan hosted a podcast with him in 2019 and early 2020, but has made no mention of her affiliation with Lazzaro since the news broke of the allegations. In 2017, her husband Hagedorn posted a photo of the three of them together at a Vikings game.

On Friday night she called for an emergency meeting of the state executive board, offering no details but asking that members attend via Zoom.

Saturday afternoon, Carnahan called the charges against Medina and Lazzaro "heinous and disturbing." She added that "conviction of the charges warrants punishment to the fullest extent of the law and we fully anticipate justice will be served."

Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, called for her resignation on Friday due to her close relationship with Lazzaro. Kelly Fenton, a former Minnesota lawmaker and GOP deputy party chair echoed his calls on Twitter.

Castro Medina is currently being held in Santa Rosa County Jail in Florida but is expected to be transported back to Minnesota. She will make her first court appearance on Monday.

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