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Arrests made in Bozeman for alleged prostitution, human trafficking

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(The Center Square) – Montana law enforcement officials have arrested 18 people for alleged prostitution and human trafficking in Bozeman.

According to Attorney General Austin Knudsen’s office, the individuals have been charged with “18 counts of patronizing a prostitute, five counts criminal distribution of dangerous drugs, one count resisting arrest, and one count patronizing a victim of sex trafficking for a child victim.”

Knudsen said he is “incredibly proud” of the investigators at the Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation for their “hard work and commitment” in the case.

“Working together with our law enforcement partners, we are getting these dangerous predators off the streets,” Knudsen said. “At the Montana Department of Justice, we are increasing our investigations and prosecutions of human trafficking to send the message to criminals that it will not be tolerated in Montana.”

This year, legislators passed House Bill 112, which made the solicitation of a prostitute a felony in Montana.

Knudsen’s office also issued a public service announcement earlier this month asking people to watch out for and report suspected human trafficking.

“We want to use this opportunity to educate the public and reach out to those in need of assistance,” Bozeman Police Detective Captain Dana McNeil said in a press release. “If someone is controlling or managing you, abusing you, withholding basic necessities from you in order to control you and your finances, providing you with illegal drugs, or if you feel scared, unsafe, and unable to leave the situation, seek help.”

The human trafficking operation was conducted from July 20 to July 22. Investigators said they also seized fentanyl and other drugs, and reported that one of the people arrested is a twice deported illegal immigrant.

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