In 2017, nine men were arrested for sex trafficking during the rally. Last year, it was seven. But this year, it’s slightly more arrests.
Every year, the state conducts an undercover sex trafficking roundup at the rally.
This year, 11 men were arrested in the undercover sex sting operation.
• Jonathon Andrew Whitney, 32, Rapid City
• Jeric Michael Davis, 28, Rapid City
• Stanley Lee Lumbardy, 68, Spearfish
• Kenneth R Williamson, 51, Rapid City
• Sean Russell Gertsch, 27, Sturgis
• Hugo Ruperto Duque, 39, Rapid City
• Japher Y. Rajab, 41, Rapid City
• Greydon Scott Shangreaux, 23, White River
• Justin Oliver Westby, 45, Wall
• Brennan John Hauk, 40, Rapid City
• Josef Martin Pettit, 23, Piedmont
“With the ebbs and flows of the way the operation has gone, it’s on the higher end of the arrest we’ve had but still in line with previous years,” South Dakota Internet Crimes Against Children Commander Brent Gromer said.
However, Gromer said every arrest is concerning.
Several law enforcement agencies posted multiple ads on online websites like Craigslist and mobile chatting apps like KIK, Meet Me and Skout to attract sex traffickers.
The undercover agents posed as 15-year-old girls complaining about their ex-boyfriend.
The men arrested responded back to the fake ads and discussed times to meet up for sex, some offering to bring alcohol.
Several of the men agreed to meet up at various spots in Sturgis. Some meeting in Rapid City at West Middle School and Canyon Lake Little League fields.
Some of the men even mention in the chat show they hope this is not an undercover situation.
“Just goes to show the danger our children face online every day. I think that’s an example of an individual that even knowing the possibilities there, there will still be willing to take that risk to abuse a child,” Gromer said.
One of the men, Jonathan Whitney, is charged with enticing a minor using the internet by a previously convicted sex offender. Whitney is a registered sex offender for a prior conviction of fourth-degree rape, according to court records.
According to federal law, if convicted, each man faces a minimum of 10 years in prison.