Four arrested in human trafficking sting in Town of Campbell

Local law enforcement agencies teamed up with the FBI, targeting human trafficking over the weekend, arresting four people.

Operation Cross Country is a nationwide initiative run by the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Endangered Children.

Town of Campbell Police Chief Andrew Gavrilos said people are probably shocked to hear law enforcement would be doing a human trafficking sting in La Crosse County, but he said believe it or not, we need it.

This was the first of its kind in La Crosse County, but law enforcement don’t expect it to be their last.

Gavrilos said he has seen the issue of human trafficking becoming more prevalent around the nation. About a month ago, he and other local law enforcement agencies decided it was the right time to get involved in the fight locally.

“Any time that you have a community that is adjacent to a major thoroughfare like I-90, they call it, ‘The Corridor,’ … you have the potential for that kind of criminal activity,” Gavrilos said.

On Friday, the Campbell Police Department, along with several other agencies including the Coulee Region Children’s Internet Protection Task Force, conducted a human trafficking sting at the Days Inn on French Island. The sting turned up four arrests, all adults, none for trafficking, but three for prostitution and another for use of a computer for a sex crime and attempted sexual assault of a child.

“If we got one we were going to be thrilled and then we ended up walking away with four arrests, so we were very happy about how that turned out,” Crystal Sedevie, co-chair of the CRCIPTF and investigator with Holmen Police Department.

Days Inn General Manager David Cassell said he was approached about a month ago and was more than happy to help out local law enforcement.

“It’s always good to show that we support our local law enforcement efforts, and so businesses and community members need to put themselves out a little bit and try to do what they can to assist,” Cassell said.

Both Gavrilos and Sedevie said these issues are not unique to any community, no matter its size or location. That’s why they will continue with similar efforts in the future.

“This is a problem that’s not going away so it’s a very good likelihood that it will happen again in the future,” Sedevie said.

Gavrilos said the three arrests for prostitution stemmed from officers who were responding to ads placed online. The fourth arrest was 42-year-old Jon Mulder of Onalaska who was responding to an ad by police for sex with a 14-year-old girl.

There were 135 cities across the U.S. that took part in this year’s Operation Cross Country. In Wisconsin, there were nine underage victims recovered and 11 pimps arrested.