Last week, the nation received news that 29 Somalis were arrested in connection to a sex trafficking ring in the Midwest. The trafficking ring had connections in Minnesota, Ohio, and Tennessee.
The U.S. Attorney's office has charged the 29 with multiple indictments. The charges include sex trafficking of minors, theft, fraud, and sexual assault. Many of the alleged victims are underage, with the youngest victim reported to be 12 years old.
There are three identified gangs thus far. According to the article, their intention was to traffic young girls for sex in exchange for money. They allegedly brought the victims to places where they would then have them engage in sexual acts with people who'd paid money. In one of the cases, the young girl was told she could have a safe place to stay in exchange for sex.
The indictments state that the gang members transported many of the victims across state lines from Minnesota to Tennessee. For some, this indictment means state and federal charges. A few may also have to deal with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Police in St. Paul began to hear rumors about a sex trafficking ring back in 2008. Many in the Somali community were concerned about what was happening, so the police started to investigate. According to the report, the gang members had been planning their trafficking ring five years prior to when the actual sex trafficking began in 2005.
Many who knew the accused are shocked at the sex crime allegations because trafficking minors has only recently become a national concern. As the investigation and case continues, police will better understand the scope and reach of this trafficking ring.
Source: Pioneer Press online, "29 charged in bust of sex slave ring tied to 3 Minneapolis gangs," Mara H. Gottfried, 09 November 2010