Aug. 27—Three people were arrested on Aug. 26 during a “human trafficking operation” conducted by the Grand Forks Police Department.

The operation targeted adults attempting to hire another person for sexual activity, according to a release from the Grand Forks Police Department.

According to GFPD Lt. Jeremy Moe, local law enforcement conduct such operations periodically, but not on any set schedule. This particular operation has been in the works for about six months, and entailed police posting ads for paid sexual encounters online.

The three men who responded to the ads were arrested for allegedly hiring an individual to engage in sexual activity, a Class B misdemeanor in North Dakota. If convicted, they could face a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Moe said it’s tough to say how much of a problem human trafficking is in the Grand Forks area.

“We do multiple different types of addressing human trafficking,” he said. “We try to find out if there are people here who are being forced to be here and to be involved in this type of interactions, so it’s tough to say. I don’t know if it’s necessarily a huge problem here, but it is something that is around the region, and it’s something we certainly want to address if it is in our community.”

The Grand Forks operation was part of a larger statewide operation. Other participating agencies included the Dickinson Police Department, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations.

By Ryan