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The Washington County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Division primarily investigates felony level crimes in all areas that utilize the Sheriff’s Office as their law enforcement agency, while also providing assistance to partnering agencies throughout Washington County.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office strives to provide high-quality law enforcement services to the public we serve. While each crime that is reported is evaluated thoroughly for evidence and solvability factors, not every crime reported is assigned to a detective. Detectives working in the Investigations Division are assigned cases through a variety of means; including calls from patrol, direct calls to scenes, referrals from other law enforcement agencies or community services, and through assignment by the Detective Sergeant or Division Commander.
The General Investigative Unit primarily investigates felony level crimes in all areas that utilize the Sheriff’s Office as their law enforcement agency. This unit is also available to assist all local law enforcement agencies throughout Washington County. Some types of crimes that are investigated are homicides, assaults, burglaries and thefts.
Those investigators assigned to the Computer Forensics work a wide variety of cases. They are called upon to assist in drug investigations, homicides and fraud cases. Also, they are responsible to investigate child pornography cases. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office Computer Forensics Unit works in partnership with the Minnesota Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) to investigate and bring charges against those that perpetrate these crimes. This unit is also responsible to assist with investigations involving many different types of multi-media.
The most common forms we encounter and investigate in Washington County are sex trafficking and labor trafficking.
What is Sex Trafficking and Labor Trafficking?
Sex Trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.
Labor Trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transporting, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
What are some of the ways traffickers control their victims?
One way is through debt bondage. The trafficker may have paid for clothes, transportation or housing for the victim. They then hold the victim financially obligated with undefined or ever increasing debt payment.
Traffickers make sure to isolate their victims from the public, and from family and friends.
Traffickers often confiscate the passports, visas or identification documentation until the "debt" is paid. They will threaten the victim with deportation or imprisonment to buy their silence.
Victims may remain silent due to threats of violence towards them, or their family or friends. Traffickers will also use shame by threatening to expose the victim on the internet.
Traffickers will almost always control the victims time, money, personal affects so victims are completely dependent.
How do you identify a trafficking victim?
- Can the person come and go as they please, or do they seem to look for permission?
- Does the person work excessively long and/or unusual hours?
- Are their unusual physical security measures present around a premises? Are their bars on the windows, security cameras, constant surveillance, fencing?
- Does the person avoid eye contact and/or seems unwilling or unable to speak for themselves?
- Does the individual control his/her own identification documents?
- Does the individual seem to have local knowledge and be aware of his/her location?
What should I do if I suspect a potential human trafficking situation?
If there appears to be imminent or immediate danger, call 911.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office, in cooperation with the Washington County Attorney’s Office, has set up a tip line to report any human/sex trafficking information. You may remain anonymous.
Trafficking Tip Line: 651-430-7825
If it is not an emergency situation, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. This is the national, toll-free multi-lingual hotline. This hotline answers calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Call-takers are trained to assess and properly refer case reports.
The Welfare Fraud Unit investigates all allegations of fraud involving the county’s Financial Assistance program. Investigators assigned to this unit work in partnership with the Washington County Community Services.
To report welfare fraud occurring in Washington County
Washington County Tip Line: 651-430-6389
Metro Tip Line: 651-431-3968
Out State Tip Line: 1-800-627-9977
To report Medicaid provider fraud, please contact Minnesota Department of Human Services:
Toll Free: 1-800-657-3750
The Washington County Drug Task Force investigates cases involving the illegal selling, buying and possession of dangerous drugs or narcotics. The Task Force is a partnership between the Sheriff’s Office, Cottage Grove Police Department, Woodbury Police Department and the Forest Lake Police Department. Along with the enforcement of state drug laws, the Task Force is also responsible for the prevention and education in the area of drug abuse.
To report suspicious activity please contact the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Tip Line at 651-430-7850 or anonymously e-mail us at
Drug Take Back: The Sheriff’s Office has a permanent sites to collect unused prescription, over-the-counter and pet medications.