A 19-year-old woman has been arrested for allegedly helping Republican political operative in Minnesota recruit young girls for paid sex.
Gisela Castro Medina, from Minnesota, was taken into custody by police in Florida on Thursday evening and charged with sex trafficking of a minor, attempt to commit sex trafficking, and obstruction of justice.
Hours earlier her associate Anton Lazzaro, 30, a wealthy GOP strategist, was arrested by the FBI on the same charges.
Castro Medina was identified as the chair of the Minnesota College Republicans Chapter at the Catholic University of St Thomas in St Paul.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges Lazzaro conspired with others – including Castro Medina – to recruit and solicit six people under the age of 18 to engage in commercial sex between May and December of 2020.
Police in Florida have arrested, Gisela Castro Medina, 19, who is accused of helping GOP strategist, Anton Lazzaro, 30, of recruiting young girls to have sex
In pictures on social media, Castro Medina can be seen graduating last year from school in Minnesota while describing herself as someone who attends the Catholic University of St. Thomas and works at a property management company
Lazzaro is being held in the Sherburne County Jail.
His attorney Zachary Newland said Lazzaro is being falsely accused and did not commit the crimes he’s charged with.
Lazzaro has connections to prominent Minnesota Republicans and managed the campaign of Republican Lacy Johnson, who made an unsuccessful bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar last year.
Pictures on Lazzaro’s Facebook and Twitter accounts show him with prominent Republican politicians, including former President Donald Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Castro Medina, from Minnesota has been charged with sex trafficking of a minor, attempt to commit sex trafficking, and obstruction of justice
Castro Medina was caught on Thursday evening in the Florida panhandle having been labelled a ‘fugitive from justice’
Instagram photos picture Castro Medina and Lazzaro together at an event in May.
GOP strategist Anton Lazzaro was arrested Thursday morning on underage sex trafficking charges. He is accused of recruiting six minors to engage in commercial sex acts
In pictures on social media, she seen graduating last year from school in Minnesota while describing herself as someone who attends the Catholic University of St. Thomas and works at a property management company.
Minnesota College Republicans released a statement concerning her arrest on Saturday.
‘We as an organization are absolutely disgusted by the actions of Ms. Medina, and have cut all ties with her effective immediately,’ said Nia Moore, the group’s chair, said in a statement to the Daily Beast.
‘Our prayers go out to the victims of Anton Lazzaro and Gisela Medina—we believe you. We stand with you. May justice be served.’
Authorities believe there may several victims, but have so far not shared further specifics on their case against Lazzaro, the ages of his victims, or how the allegations came to light.
A photo posted to Instagram shows Castro Medina and Lazzaro together at an event in May
According to investigators, Lazzaro conspired with Castro Medina to recruit and solicit minors for sex from May through December 2020.
He was taken into custody by FBI agents on Thursday and made his initial appearance in United States District Court before Magistrate Judge Becky Thorson.
He will remain in custody pending a formal detention hearing on Monday.
Thorson said the decision to keep Lazarro in custody stemmed from victims wanting additional protection from him, the Daily Beast reported.
‘It’s their strong wish that the United States proceed with a recommendation of detention,’ Thorson said.
According to the news outlet, federal investigators have not arrested the person believed to be the co-conspirator in this operation.
Officials raided Lazzaro’s luxury downtown Minneapolis condo last December seeking evidence regarding a person he brought into his residence.
Under the search warrant they obtained Lazzaro’s bank records and video surveillance footage from the building a week before the raid.
Lazzaro confirmed last month that his residence had been searched and claimed that ‘someone made a false accusation against me’.
‘There’s no charges, no case, nothing political,’ Lazarro explained.
His attorney Zachary Newland has previously said: ‘We look forward to clearing Mr. Lazzaro’s name… I think he’s innocent. They don’t have a provable case here.’
He continued saying: the ‘matter was regarding a totally unrelated incident that’s now almost resolved, essentially.’
In 2020, Lazarro had served as the campaign manager for GOP candidate Lacy Johnson, whose bid was unsuccessful.
Johnson claimed that Lazarro never told him about the raid or discussed his dating/personal life.
‘I don’t know that side of Tony. He’s young, he’s got money, and… that tends to attract females,’ Johnson said.
Lazaro has categorized himself as a ‘next-generation Republican’ who has ‘more modernized views’ and claims his PAC is looking to ‘redefine the Republican Party specifically to minority, LGBT, and women’ who have been neglected by the party
On his personal website, Lazarro is pictured alongside former president Donald Trump and former vice president Mike Pence. He also posted photos on social media of himself sitting on private jets, waving large sums of cash, and driving shirtless in a Ferrari
Lazarro’s political action committee has funneled over $22,000 to political entities in California, Minnesota, Michigan and New Mexico.
He has categorized himself as a ‘next-generation Republican’ who has ‘more modernized views’ and claims his PAC is looking to ‘redefine the Republican Party specifically to minority, LGBT, and women’ who have been neglected by the party.
On his personal website, Lazarro is pictured alongside former president Donald Trump and former vice president Mike Pence.
On his social media accounts, he posted photos of himself sitting on private jets, waving large sums of cash, and driving shirtless in a Ferrari.
Court records show that agents seized his 2010 convertible Ferrari, $371,240 cash together with gold bullion worth more than $931,000 together with and a similar level of silver.
Authorities also found 13 phones including at least one which whose data was designed to be wiped quickly with just a single swipe.