Investigation of Somali Human Trafficking Ring Goes Beyond Sex Crimes – Part 2

In our last post we discussed the indictment and arrest of individuals involved in a human trafficking and underage prostitution ring based in Minneapolis that stretched to Tennessee and Ohio. In this post, we will discuss the additional financial crime charges that authorities are investigating and the how the sex crime charges led to the financial crime investigation of the Minneapolis based Somali gangs.

According to sources close to the investigation, the underage prostitution ring is small part of a larger criminal scheme that involves credit card fraud, tampering with witnesses and burglary. Prosecutors often look to implicate defendants involved in cross state crimes on federal charges because federal crime charges have longer prison sentences in comparison to state crime charges. Authorities involved in the human trafficking case also alleged financial crimes in order to indict more gang members involved in the cross state criminal scheme.

Human trafficking cases can also be hard to prove, so federal investigators and prosecutors look to other actions that occur across state lines such as tax evasion, mail fraud or cyber crime to build a more successful case. Human trafficking cases often involve other crimes and investigators will follow money trails to financial crimes.

The financial crimes alleged in the indictments against the Somali gangs include counterfeit credit card production and use and stolen cash, payroll checks and credit card numbers. The gangs allegedly created 500 fake credit cards and used them to shop at Walmarts in the Twin Cities and in Missouri. Gang members were also accused of possessing 166 credit card account numbers and using the credit card information to purchase $231,000 in goods and services. The credit card information was allegedly gleaned by gang members who worked for a hotel in the Twin Cities. Authorities say they will follow whatever criminal charges lead to building the best case against the gangs.

Source: Star Tribune, “A Huge Web of Gang Crime,” David Chanen and James Walsh, 11/10/10

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

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Confidential informants may provide integral information to help build criminal investigations, but how reliable is that information when they are receiving payment for their services? To protect them, state law requires the identity of informants be kept confidential. For those facing criminal charges, however, this creates challenges in questioning the accuracy and validity of the information given at trial.
Stay calm and compose after getting accused of a crime but not charged in Minneapolis, MN. Do not discuss the facts of your case with anyone, including your relatives and family members. Hire a criminal defense attorney with a demonstrated record of winning cases like yours. Your attorney will discuss your rights, guide you on how to cooperate with law enforcement within the legal boundaries, and build a solid defense strategy to fight the charges you could face in the future.
Expungement and sealing of records in Minnesota affect how your criminal history appears to government agencies and the public. The main difference between the two legal actions is that expungement permanently removes past arrests, criminal charges, or convictions from private and public databases, while sealing hides the criminal record from the public. Courts, government entities, and law enforcement agencies can access sealed criminal records.