SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s been over four months since the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, but the fallout from people who were arrested during the rally continues.
Some of those who were arrested were caught in sex trafficking stings put on by state and federal agents with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force or ICAC.
KELOLAND News was able to gain exclusive access to take you behind the scenes to one of the operations as investigators go looking for those who prey on young children.
The 83rd annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally…it’s a place where bikers come to have fun.
But hidden in the shadows and underneath the roar of the engines…. are silent screams for help.
Authorities say the Rally is a hotbed of activity for sex trafficking.
“So this is a child exploitation operation where we are focusing on online enticement and solicitation of minors,” ICAC commander Toby Russell said.
KELOLAND News was invited to come along to Sturgis with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to see how agents conduct their undercover sting operations during the rally.
Sturgis attracts hundreds of thousands of bikers every year and officials say the bigger the event the bigger the risk for sex trafficking.
“Sex trafficking is an issue across the United States, and South Dakota is not immune to that; whenever we have large events with a large number of people unfortunately it’s here,” Attorney General Marty Jackley said.
That’s why authorities go undercover.
“When we run an operation like this we do a fair amount of planning ahead of time picking locations, things we are going to do, back stories that we are going to use; things like that, so there’s quite a bit of planning that goes into that on the front end before we start the operation,” Russell said.
When the Rally started, about a dozen agents sat behind closed doors working the computers to have conversations on social media and dating websites.
They build profiles pretending to be 12 to 15 year old girls and boys.
“Once those profiles are up we wait for individuals to reach out to the profile and begin communicating with the undercover,” Russell said.
During their conversations, they make it very clear how old they’re pretending to be, they even send pictures that have been doctored to make them look like a young child.
“Most of the people will back down at that point and say you are too young, you shouldn’t be on this and they won’t talk to you,” alternate commander of ICAC Task Force Brian Freeouf said.
The agents worked long hours into the night, they had lots of conversations the two nights we were with them, but didn’t find anyone who was willing to meet up.
Earlier in the week, though, federal agents with Homeland Security conducted their own sex sting operations and arrested four people.
According to court documents James Fast Horse thought he was going to meet a 14-year-old for sex, but it was actually an undercover agent.
41-year-old James Dreamer of Pine Ridge was also arrested for a similar crime.
42-year-old Vincent Barrios was arrested because he too thought he was meeting a 13-year-old girl.
And 38-year-old Jacob Wilson was also arrested in the sting for communicating with an undercover agent who was pretending to be a 12-year-old girl. He’s a registered sex offender.
Here’s part of that conversation.
He allegedly told the undercover agent who went by the name of Emily quote ‘we can do more’
Emily replied ‘like what lol’ he said ‘bend u over lol.’ ‘will it hurt’ he replied ‘no.’
Emily said ‘do you care that I’m 12 years old,’ he replied ‘don’t care about that’.
So they agreed to meet up at Canyon Lake Little League Fields parking lot where Wilson was taken into custody.
Investigators with the DCI say it doesn’t take much to commit a crime.
“If they were to request a naked picture of the undercover a crime would occur, if they sent a naked picture of themselves to the undercover a crime would be committed, and if they spoke about any sexual acts that they wanted to perform with the undercover then a crime would have occurred at that point in time,” Freeouf said.
Crimes that re-occur over and over even if they’ve been caught.
“It’s not going to change for them whether it’s prison time or whatever it’s what they are attracted to they’ll keep going back to what they are attracted to,” Freeouf said.
“Part of it is an addiction, part of it is a belief that they’ve gotten by with it in other states and that’s why it’s so important for us to utilize the media and other efforts to say here in South Dakota, we are protecting children,” Attorney General Marty Jackley said.
35-year-old Burton Dave Chief Junior was also arrested during the rally. He has pleaded guilty to attempted enticement of a minor.
Jacob Wilson also pleaded guilty for trying to meet up with a 12-year-old girl for sex.
Sentencing dates for both men have yet to be set.