Ramsey County authorities charged two men Tuesday with paying for sex with a trafficked minor.
Michael M. Jordan, 42, of White Bear Lake, and Steven R. Kjelstad, 53, of Ellsworth, Wis., were each charged in Ramsey County District Court with engaging in prostitution with a minor.
Johns, or men who pay for sex, are typically caught in undercover stings responding to ads created by police. Despite the busts of several sex-trafficking rings in the east metro, it's rare across Minnesota to find, arrest and charge the men who have paid for sex with trafficked victims.
"We've just become better at investigating and identifying the situations, and bringing these individuals to justice," said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi.
Choi said that Jordan and Kjelstad are only the second and third men charged with paying for sex with a trafficked victim since he was sworn in as county attorney in 2011.
It's typically the men and women running the sex-trafficking rings who have been arrested and convicted in Ramsey County. The 2014 bust of three suspects in a St. Paul sex-trafficking ring is what eventually led authorities to Jordan and Kjelstad.
The two men were allegedly regular customers and are charged with paying for sex with the same vulnerable runaway when she was 17.
"This case, I believe, really represents an ongoing evolution of the work that we're doing around prosecuting and investigating sex-trafficking crimes," Choi said. "It's also recognition that the demand is driving all of this."
According to the charges: Police found Jordan's and Kjelstad's cellphone numbers in a cellphone belonging to Amanda M. Larscheid, one of the suspects who ran the sex-trafficking ring. Jordan, who was known as "Tree Guy" because his truck advertised a tree service, paid to have sex with the 17-year-old at Larscheid's St. Paul apartments and in his truck.
Kjelstad, known by the nicknames "Ellsworth" and "Ryan," allegedly paid for "two-girl specials" that involved sex with Larscheid and the 17-year-old, who is Larscheid's cousin.
Kjelstad paid for sex at the St. Paul apartments and in various locations in western Wisconsin, the complaint said.
Choi and St. Paul police Cmdr. Rob Thomasser said at a news conference that authorities are working harder and smarter to catch johns.