WASHINGTON — Twenty-nine people were facing charges related to trafficking Somali and American girls for sex, US officials announced Monday.
Authorities were in the process of arresting the defendants in Minnesota and Tennessee for allegedly sending girls, some younger than 13, from the Minneapolis area to Nashville, Tennessee for sex between 2000 and 2010. Authorities also said one 18-year-old was sexually assaulted.
"Trafficking children for sex is intolerable and the Department of Justice will aggressively enforce trafficking and other laws to eliminate these types of deplorable acts," said US Attorney Jerry Martin.
"As shown here today, law enforcement agencies at every level will come together to bring the full force of justice to bear on individuals who choose to profit by victimizing innocent children."
The defendants are all alleged to be associated with interconnected Somali-American gangs: the Somali Outlaws, the Somali Mafia and the Lady Outlaws.
The sex trafficking offenses carry a penalty of not less than 15 years to life in prison.
The defendants are also charged with obstructing the investigation, lying to a federal grand jury, stealing a car and making 231,000 dollars in false credit card charges over one year.
"Human traffickers abuse innocent people, undermine our public safety, and often use their illicit proceeds to fund sophisticated criminal organizations," said Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton.
"ICE is committed to bringing these criminals to justice and rescuing their victims from a life in the shadows. We will continue to fight the battle to end human trafficking both here in the United States and around the globe."
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