The indictment said three MUSLIM gangs called the Somali Outlaws, the Somali Mafia and the Lady Outlaws were forcing teenage girls into prostitution and operated in St. Paul, Minneapolis; Columbus, and Nashville.
CLEVELAND A federal trial involving more than two dozen defendants accused in a sex trafficking ring run by Somali MUSLIM gangs is being complicated by cultural issues within the Somali MUSLIM refugee communities in Minnesota and Tennessee. Defense attorneys argued that the defendants, many of whom are refugees from Somalia, were juveniles at the time the alleged crimes occurred.
After selecting a jury last month, the trial was delayed last week when prosecutors turned over thousands of documents and audio recordings from the investigation to defense attorneys on the eve of trial. Both defense attorneys and federal prosecutors have repeatedly declined to comment about the case. (Of course not, when it’s about Muslims, mum’s the word)
The indictment, which was originally unsealed in 2010 and amended by a superseding indictment in 2011, says the defendants, many of them from the Somali MUSLIM immigrant communities in Minneapolis and Nashville, were members or associates of the three gangs. Four unidentified victims, some of who were under the age of 14, are listed in the indictment.
The indictment accuses the gangs of finding and recruiting young girls for the purpose of prostitution in exchange for money and drugs between 2000 and 2010.
Out of the 30 individuals listed in the indictment, only 14 are going to trial this month in Nashville on charges of conspiracy to commit sexual trafficking of children by force, fraud or coercion and charges related to the sexual trafficking. Many of the individuals have remained in federal custody since their arrests in 2010.
Smith has been working with Jane Doe #2 in the case and said testifying against other Somali MUSLIMS will be very difficult for the victim, but she wants to have her voice heard. ”In the case of Jane Doe #2, she, as a minor, would typically be in a closed court, but she wants to have her story known and she wants to speak in public,” Smith said.
Many, but not all the defendants, are described as refugees who came to the United States as young children. Police have relied on immigration paperwork to determine their ages, but defense attorneys have argued in court that information in those documents are routinely incorrect due to cultural and language issues. (No, it is because Muslims lie. Period)
Courts in Minnesota, the state with the largest Somali MUSLIM population in the U.S., have seen similar issues in cases where defendants or victims are Somali MUSLIMS.
“When you are dealing with an insular inbred community, especially whose native language is not English, people are going to worry about the ramifications of testifying in court against community members,” Scott said. “The Somali MUSLIM community is a very insular community in Minnesota — everybody knows everybody (and most everybody is married to their own family members)