Child sex-trafficking sting at 2021 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally nets 9 arrests

STURGIS, S.D. — A weeklong sex-trafficking sting executed at the 81st annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally netted nine arrests, each with some connection to children.

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Eight of the nine men arrested, who range in age from 22 to 54, are South Dakota residents charged with attempted enticement of a minor using the internet, a charge which carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison upon conviction, the Argus Leader reported.

The ninth man, a New York resident, is charged with attempted commercial sex trafficking of a minor, which carries a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison upon conviction, the newspaper reported.

The South Dakota U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed the arrests in a Tuesday news release.

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According to the Rapid City Journal, the joint sex operation involved the South Dakota Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce, the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, Pennington County Sheriff’s Office and the Rapid City Police Department.

Specifically, law enforcement placed multiple advertisements on online websites and mobile applications to communicate with online predators. Skout, MeetMe and Whisper, as well as the website fetlife.com, were among the platforms targeted, the Journal reported.

The men arrested include:

  • Alec Walker Daniel, 22, Rapid City, South Dakota: Attempted enticement of a minor using the internet.
  • Alexander Wayne Basaldu, 35, Rapid City, South Dakota: Attempted enticement of a minor using the internet.
  • Jesse James Young, 36, Rapid City, South Dakota: Attempted enticement of a minor using the internet.
  • Joshua Robert Lehmann, 34, Rapid City, South Dakota: Attempted enticement of a minor using the internet.
  • Christopher Thomas Dahl, 28, Wolcott, New York: Attempted commercial sex trafficking of a minor.
  • Stephen Gregory Fontenot, 39, Black Hawk, South Dakota: Attempted enticement of a minor using the internet.
  • Anthony James Kemp, 54, Spearfish, South Dakota: Attempted enticement of a minor using the internet.
  • James Dean Hanapel, 20, Ellsworth AFB: Attempted enticement of a minor using the internet.
  • Clayton John Paulson, 36, Spearfish, South Dakota: Attempted enticement of a minor using the internet.

The 2021 rally attracted more than 525,000 attendees, substantially fewer than the record-setting 2015 crowd of more than 747,000, but nearly 14% more than the roughly 462,000 who rode in for the 2020 event, KOTA-TV reported.