Investigation of Somali Human Trafficking Ring Goes Beyond Sex Crimes – Part 1

Last Monday morning an indictment for 29 Somali men and woman involved in sex trafficking operations in Minneapolis, Nashville and Columbus, Ohio was made public. Twelve individuals in the Twin Cities area were arrested for their involvement in the prostitution ring that trafficked underage prostitutes. The gangs involved in the human trafficking ring are not only being investigated for sex crimes. The gangs are also being investigated for financial crimes as well. In this post, we will discuss the sex crime related investigation, and in our next post we will discuss the financial crime investigation and how authorities have leveraged the financial crime investigation to bring potential charges in a possible international crime web.

Three Somali gangs based in the Minneapolis area have been tied to the human trafficking and prostitution ring. The name of the gangs involved in the alleged sex crimes are the Somali Outlaws, Somali Mafia and Lady Outlaws. The 29 people listed on the indictment are accused of trafficking and prostituting girls as young as the age of 12. According to the indictment, the sex ring has been in operation since 2000, and one of the main aims of the ring is to identify, recruit and obtain girls under the age of 14 and girls under the age of 18.

The investigation began in 2007 when members of the Somali community in Minneapolis raised concerns about young girls being involved in gang activity. The indictment released last Monday outlines the story of four girls who were allegedly sexually assaulted and transported between Minneapolis and Nashville. Two of the girls were under 18 years old and the other two girls were age 13 and younger at the time of their recruitment.

According to the indictment, the girls were forced to have sex with gang members and were sold for sex. Many of the locations where the prostitution occurred were in homes, apartments and hotels in the Twin Cities and Nashville. One of the girls was picked up at her high school and was forced to commit sexual acts in a Twin Cities mall bathroom. The penalty for sex trafficking offenses is from 15 years to life in prison. In our next post, we will discuss the financial crime investigation of the gangs and how smaller charges are used by authorities to stop more egregious violations of the law.

Source:, “Feds Break Up Somali Sex Trafficking Ring in Minnesota, Tennessee,” Tom Lyden, 11/8/10

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

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