Park Rapids man charged with promoting prostitution

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BEMIDJI—A Park Rapids man was charged with a felony Monday after allegedly taking a woman to Bemidji so she could have sex for money.

David Cruz Velazquez, 44, was also charged this spring with one count of soliciting a child or someone believed to be a child through electronic communication to engage in sexual conduct.

According to court documents, Velazquez was caught in September after allegedly soliciting a police officer he believed to be a child in an online sting by the Bemidji Police Department.

Once Velazquez was detained for the initial crime, his phone was searched and he was given a receipt, documents say.

On Sept. 15, Bemidji police officers arrested a woman who had been engaging in prostitution at a local hotel. According to a criminal complaint, the woman told police she had met a man known as "Cruz," who offered to take her from Duluth to Park Rapids, so she could continue working as a prostitute.

The complaint states that Velazquez took the woman to Park Rapids, then to Bemidji, where she was arrested. While searching the woman's hotel room, documents say, officers found the cell phone receipt officers had given Velazquez when he was detained for the alleged solicitation.

Hotel workers told police they saw the woman come to the front desk with a man to pay for the room, and identified Velazquez as the man when given a photo lineup.

Velazquez was charged in February with the solicitation crime—five months after the crime was allegedly committed. He did not appear at a March hearing, and was arrested. After he was released from jail, he again did not appear at a hearing schedule for April, and was taken into custody. He was charged with one count of promoting the prostitution of an individual Monday. Velazquez is currently being held in the Beltrami County Jail and is scheduled to appear in court June 26.