By Katherine Lymn
Forum News Service
Seven men -- some enraged, some embarrassed, some ashamed -- crowd holding cells in the jail just across the interstate from the Best Western hotel in Dickinson, N.D.
Two other guys, the latest would-be “johns” caught in a prostitution sting, sit on a hotel room floor at the Best Western, handcuffed and dazed.
Across a parking lot from the hotel, still two more men are detained at the Astoria Hotel.
All of the men were arrested after responding to a fake ad offering sex for money.
And the messages kept coming.
“We could’ve got 10 more that night,” said Rob Fontenot, a North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent who led the operation, one of several that authorities have conducted in western North Dakota.
That night in late 2013, agents had to stop responding to emails and texts from other men because they were at maximum capacity, Fontenot said.
The ads these men responded to were like dozens of others posted online each week, carefully but suggestively worded propositions.
“Hot body … don’t miss out … sexy blonde … Let me rock your world.”
Most of the ads include photographs of women in lingerie. Some hint that the women offered are actually girls, younger than 18.
Hundreds of men responded to the fake ads posted by investigators in the Dickinson sting. When they inquired by text or email, an officer posing as a pimp said he could set up a “date.”
Most of the men backed out when the officer said the ages, which ranged from 10 to 16.
These 11 men bit.
They drove to the hotel, knocked on the assigned door, expecting to pay for sex with an underage girl, and they were swiftly arrested.
The men arrived so quickly, authorities said, the operation had to be shut down early.
There are many thousands of men, teenagers to retirees, flush with cash, maybe far from family, hard-working and with few options for distraction, emboldened perhaps by an entitlement mentality. Men who came to North Dakota to find opportunities they couldn’t find at home.
It’s a matter of supply and demand in the Bakken.
And right now, both appear to be at an all-time high.