FARGO — Federal indictments were unsealed Thursday against three men char-ged in an ongoing sex trafficking investigation in the North Dakota oil patch.
Jordan Christiansen, Daniel Ray and Michael Sackett are charged with attempted sex trafficking of children. They have not been asked to enter pleas and have waived their preliminary hearings.
The indictment accuses each man of knowingly attempting to “recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, obtain and maintain by any means” a female minor for sex. The defendants believed the girls were in their teens, court documents show.
A judge has sealed affidavits with details about the case after prosecutors said in a motion that the documents contain information related to an ongoing investigation that may jeopardize the safety of undercover agents.
Jacob Rodenbiker, attorney for Sackett, had no comment. A spokesman for the federal public defender’s office, which is representing Christiansen and Ray, did not immediately respond Thursday to a request for comment.
U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon would not comment specifically about the allegations against Christiansen, Ray and Sackett, but told The Associated Press Thursday his office views “allegations of even the attempted sex trafficking of children” as serious crimes.
Federal authorities recently announced a law enforcement partnership known as Project Safe Bakken, which is meant to focus on wide-ranging crimes such as human trafficking, drug trafficking, illegal firearms and prostitution. Many of the human trafficking cases involve people who are brought to North Dakota from other states.
“We are committed to working with our federal, state and tribal law enforcement partners to do everything we can to make sure that the increasing organized criminal activity in North Dakota’s oil patch does not include an increase in the sex trafficking of children,” Purdon said Thursday.
State and federal officials have been working on prostitution stings in the oil patch, including one in Dickinson earlier this year that resulted in eight arrests.