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High-Profile Republican Donor, Newly Selected College GOP Chapter Leader Arrested for Alleged Sex Trafficking of Minors: Authorities

College Republican leader Gisela Castro Medina appears in an Okaloosa County, Fla. jail mugshot. Republican operative and donor Anton Lazzaro appears in a Sherburne County, Minn. mugshot.

College Republican chapter leader Gisela Castro Medina (left) appears in an Okaloosa County, Fla. jail mugshot. Republican operative and donor Anton Lazzaro (right) appears in a Sherburne County, Minn. mugshot.

The leader of a college Republican chapter in Minnesota and a wealthy, well-connected Republican Party donor are both under arrest on suspected sex trafficking charges, jail records, GOP statements, and news reports all indicate.

Gisela Castro Medina, 19, of St. Paul, Minn., was booked into the Okaloosa County Jail in Florida at 9:48 p.m. on Thursday and departed at 2:14 p.m. on Friday, jail records show. She was picked up as a fugitive from justice (“FFJ”) at the request of the FBI in Minneapolis. Her alleged crimes are listed in Okaloosa County jail records as conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors, sex trafficking of a minor, sex trafficking, and obstruction.

Okaloosa County is about 50 minutes northeast of Pensacola in the Florida panhandle.

Minneapolis television station WCCO reports that Castro Medina is the “recently elected” chair of University of St. Thomas College Republicans.  The University of St. Thomas is just west of downtown St. Paul.

The television station said Castro Medina was taken into federal custody from the Okaloosa County jail in Florida, but it also indicated — and jail records also say — she was sent to the Santa Rosa County Jail in Florida.  That facility is also northeast of Pensacola.  Santa Rosa County records suggest Castro Medina is being held for the U.S. Marshals Service and remains in custody as of the time of this report.

College Republican Leader Gisela Castro Medina appears in a Santa Rosa County, Fla. Jail Mugshot.

College Republican Leader Gisela Castro Medina appears in a Santa Rosa County, Fla. Jail Mugshot.

A leader with the Minnesota College Republicans, a governing group of young political activists in the North Star State, released the following statement:

It was just brought to my attention that on Thursday, August 12th — University of St. Thomas Chair Gisela Castro Medina was arrested alongside Anton Lazzaro for obstruction of Justice, sex trafficking, and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of underage victims. We as an organization are absolutely disgusted by the actions of Ms. Medina, and have cut all ties with her effective immediately.

While Ms. Medina had recently assumed the role of Chair at the University of St. Thomas’ chapter, she was not an active member nor had she begun working in an official capacity on behalf of the Minnesota College Republicans.

Our prayers go out to the victims of Anton Lazzaro and Gisela Medina — we believe you. We stand with you. May justice be served.

The group later issued a second statement:

For clarification, for the past year campuses have been shut down and/or operating at a limited capacity as a result of the pandemic. Additionally, the 2021-2022 school year has yet to start. All chapters are currently inactive.

Lazzaro, 30, was himself “arrested and indicted on federal sex trafficking charges for allegedly recruiting six minor victims to engage in commercial sex acts,” federal prosecutors announced Thursday.

“The indictment charges Lazzaro with one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors, five counts of sex trafficking of minors, one count of attempted sex trafficking of a minor, and three counts of obstruction,” prosecutors continued. “Based on the evidence obtained in this investigation, authorities believe there may be additional victims of the alleged conduct. Anyone with information about this matter is encouraged to call the FBI Minneapolis Division at 763-569-8000.”

Lazzaro’s indictment contains the redacted name of a second defendant. Prosecutors did not concomitantly announce Castro Medina’s arrest along with Lazzaro’s, and no public court record of a federal prosecution against Castro Medina in the District of Minnesota was available as of the time of this writing.

But the Lazzaro indictment does allege that all of the victims are under the age of eighteen.

The indictment further demands the civil forfeiture of real and personal property alleged to be connected to the case. That property includes what’s reported to be a condominium unit in a downtown Minneapolis high-rise; $371,240 in cash seized from that unit; a Ferrari convertible; and well more than a dozen computers, tablets, cell phones, thumb drives, and similar forms electronic storage media and equipment.

WCCO described Lazzaro as “deeply involved” in Minnesota Republican Party politics.  Minneapolis NBC affiliate KARE called Lazzaro “a wealthy Minnesota Republican party operative and donor.”  Local FOX affiliate KMSP said he had “lived the high life in a $900,000 downtown Minneapolis condo” until a federal raid back in December.  Statewide news site “Bring Me the News” described Lazzaro’s alleged largess as well.

Many of the recipients of Lazzaro’s campaign donations — adding up to what WCCO called “tens of thousands of dollars” — have told that television station and a long list of other news organizations they plan to donate the money to charity given the charges against the donor.

Lazzaro hosted a podcast with Minnesota GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan in 2019 and in 2020, KMSP and other newsrooms noted. Minnesota Public Radio reported late Saturday that a quickly growing chorus of North Star State Republicans have called upon Carnahan to step down given her close ties to the now-accused Lazzaro.

U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn. 1), Carnahan’s husband, in Nov. 2017 posted on Facebook a picture of himself, his wife, and Lazzaro at a Minnesota Vikings game:

Posted by Jim Hagedorn on Sunday, November 19, 2017

“The arrest and charges involving Ms. Gisela Castro Medina, in conjunction with Thursday’s arrest and sex trafficking charges of Mr. Anton Lazzaro are heinous and disturbing,” Carnahan said in a recent statement obtained by the St. Paul Pioneer Press.  “Conviction of these charges warrants punishment to the fullest extent of the law and we fully anticipate justice will be served.”

“While we work for the same cause, the Republican Party of Minnesota has no jurisdiction over the Minnesota College Republicans, including the chapter at the University of St. Thomas,” she added.  “Minnesota CR chapters are independently run organizations.”

Lazzaro was booked into the Sherburne County Jail in Minnesota on Thursday, records maintained by that facility indicate.  Sherburne County is about an hour northwest of downtown Minneapolis.

WCCO and others reported that Lazzaro’s attorney said his client was being “falsely accused.”

Lazzaro’s Website — which is replete with photos of himself making right-of-center media appearances and posing with Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Tucker Carlson, and others — describes him as follows:

Anton (Tony) Lazzaro is the founder and Director of Big Tent Republicans PAC, a unique group dedicated to broadening the appeal of the Republican Party. The group looks to redefine the Republican Party specifically to minority, LGBT, and women who he feels have been misinformed by the Democratic Party as well as neglected by his own party.

An Entrepreneurial business owner in the marketing industry, he has owned his own very successful firm Gold River Group for nine years. He is passionate however in growing the GOP for future generations to preserve its strength in the 21st century.

With a background in marketing and technology, he has ran digital operations for several successful Republican political campaigns in California and Minnesota.

Amongn Lazzaro’s tweets was a Nov. 4, 2020 missive that suggested Trump would re-take Arizona.  And, of course, this:

Read Lazzaro’s indictment below:

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.