9 jailed, including 8 in Cass County, as part of underage sex sting
FARGO -- Eight people arrested Thursday, March 9, as part of a law enforcement sting operation were charged in Cass County District Court on Friday, March 10, with patronizing a minor for commercial sexual activity.
A ninth suspect was arrested in Grand Forks this week as part of the same operation.
Fargo police confirmed in a posting on the Police Department's Facebook page Friday, March 10, that the arrests were part of a follow-up to last summer's undercover operation called “Guardian Angel,” which resulted in the arrest of 18 men.
In the latest sting, eight individuals were booked into the Cass County Jail Thursday afternoon and evening on suspicion of patronizing a minor for commercial sex.
Those arrested and later charged were: Dramane J. Berte, 21, Aaron C. Davidson, 41, Dan K. Durr, 42, Grant W. Goodsell, 26, Merennage R. Salgado, 32, and Jimmy B. Tenwah, 29, all Fargo Fargo; David M. Jablonsky, 42, Bismarck; and Veran A. Kapaun, 50, Kindred.
Durr is the CEO and president of Fargo-based Don’s Car Washes, which operates two Fargo car washes. Davidson is a general manager and partner in The Apartment Movers, a local moving company. Jablonsky is a major in the North Dakota Army National Guard. He’s a full-time guardsman and serves as an operations officer for the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Guard spokesman Bill Prokopyk said.
"He's been reassigned to administrative duties pending the outcome of the civilian legal system," Prokopyk said.
One person was arrested in Grand Forks this week in connection with the undercover operation, according to Fargo police. Grand Forks law enforcement identified the Grand Forks suspect as Robert J. Griggs, 47.
Last summer’s “Guardian Angel” sting targeted men accused of going to area hotels looking to hire minors for sex. Area law enforcement officials placed ads on websites and mobile apps through which contact with suspects was made. The apps included Grindr and Whisper, and the websites included Craigslist.com and Backpage.com.
The latest sting was similar, according to court documents, which said the operation consisted of law enforcement placing an ad online for a young female.
When suspects responded to the ad, the young female, actually an undercover female detective, would represent herself as someone younger than 18, according to the court documents.
Individuals were arrested after showing up at a Fargo hotel, the documents said.
Of the 18 people arrested last summer, a number of cases have yet to be resolved, while others have ended with guilty pleas or guilty verdicts at trial.
For those convicted, most sentences have fallen into a range of three to eight months in jail, with one of the longest sentences imposed so far being 1½ years.
Fargo police said in the Facebook posting Friday that the new arrests coincided with human trafficking training the Police Department was able to participate in this week.
"Protecting the children in our communities is one of the highest priorities within the Fargo Police Department,” police said in the Facebook post. “We will continue to target those individuals who attempt to engage in sexual activities with children."
The post also said the human trafficking training and latest sting were the result of collaboration among many agencies, including: North Dakota Human Trafficking Task Force, Minneapolis Police Department, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, Grand Forks Police Department, West Fargo Police Department, Wahpeton Police Department, Jamestown Police Department, Stutsman County Sheriff's Office, East Grand Forks (Minn.) Police Department, Moorhead Police Department and Clay County Sheriff’s Office.
Reporter Archie Ingersoll contributed to this report.