News24

3 guilty in Somali sex trafficking case

2012-05-05 13:08

Nashville - A US jury split its verdict on Friday against nine people accused of operating a sex trafficking ring run mostly by Somali refugee gang members, convicting three men and acquitting six.

The defendants are among a total of 30 who were indicted in the case that spans from Minnesota to Ohio and Tennessee. The jury of six men and six women deliberated over five days this week before returning the verdict.

After the verdict was read, Assistant US Attorney Van Vincent said outside the federal courthouse in Nashville said the verdict shows that the jury found that sex trafficking did occur and the government won't cease prosecuting these cases.

"It's very important for victims to understand that you can come forward, people will listen and that people can believe what you have to say about the crime," Vincent said.

A Somali witness identified only as Jane Doe No. 2 testified that she was used as a prostitute by gang members starting at the age of 12. She cried in court as she described being taken to several apartments in around suburban Minneapolis to have sex with other Somali men for money, sometimes as little as $40.

Idris Ibrahim Fahra, Andrew Kayachith and Yassin Abdirahman Yusuf were found guilty of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children by force, fraud or coercion. The three men were also charged with child sex trafficking and attempted child sex trafficking, but only Fahra was convicted on one additional count of child sex trafficking.

Fahra faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years for the child sex trafficking conviction up to life in prison, and Kayachith and Yusuf face a possible maximum sentence of up to life in prison. No sentencing date has been set.