Sections

Weather Forecast

Close

More charges filed in Duluth-area sting; one suspect takes own life

From left: Jason Edmund Harwood, Dean Richard Luukkonen, and Luke Alexander Unruh. 1 / 2
From left: Devivaraprasad Telagam, James Bryan Quiambao, Benjamin William Scott, Ogechukwu Victor Adekweh.2 / 2

Additional suspects have been charged in a two-day sting operation that targeted child solicitation in the Duluth area.

A total of seven suspects have now faced charges stemming from the investigation. Duluth police confirmed Monday that one defendant died by suicide Friday, the same day he was charged and released from custody.

The operation focused on identifying and arresting suspects seeking to have sexual encounters with minor females in exchange for money, according to court documents. Investigators placed advertisements on various sites "known for soliciting commercial sex" and ran the operation out of a Duluth hotel room on Wednesday and Thursday.

According to criminal complaints, the suspects responded to the advertisements, which featured "several pictures of a female in suggestive poses." The defendants allegedly communicated with undercover officers posing as a girl and claiming to be 15 years old.

The men agreed to meet and pay for sexual services and/or sent sexually explicit photographs to the undercover officer, according to the complaints filed in State District Court.

Charged since the News Tribune first reported on the case Friday are:

  • Luke Alexander Unruh, 36, of Silver Bay, with engaging in or agreeing to hire a minor to engage in prostitution;
  • Jason Edmund Harwood, 44, of Deer River, with distributing via electronic communication sexually explicit material to children; and
  • Dean Richard Luukkonen, 62, of Britt, with distributing via electronic communication sexually explicit material to children.

Four other defendants appeared in court Friday and were released with conditions.

James Bryant Quiambao, 22, took his own life hours after he was arraigned on a charge of engaging in or agreeing to hire a minor to engage in prostitution. Quiambao had been released with conditions pending his next court date. His death was reported at 10:35 p.m. at an address on the 200 block of Willow Street, according to police.

Others facing charges of engaging in or agreeing to hire a minor to engage in prostitution are:

  • Benjamin William Scott, 32, of Duluth;
  • Ogechukwu Victor Adekweh, 33, a Grand Rapids doctor; and
  • Devivaraprasad Telagam, 35, of Duluth.

An eighth suspect also has been identified by police but is not being named by the News Tribune at this time because he has yet to be formally charged. The 26-year-old Buffalo, Minn., man was not taken into custody due to his distant location, police spokeswoman Ingrid Hornibrook said Monday.