Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Top Story: 29 charged with sex trafficking juveniles

Imagine being stripped of everything you know, transported between states and forced to have sex with strangers. No, this isn't a nightmare; these are details from a recent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation. Four girls - some younger than 14 years old - were forced into a life of prostitution by a Somali-run Human Trafficking Organization.

Human trafficking is dark, dirty and secretive. The victims are often voiceless, scared and hidden in plain sight. ICE and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) investigate many federal crimes, but human trafficking - especially that of children - is one of the most egregious. Lives are compromised. Productive futures are destroyed.

Today, ICE, with counterparts from the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Secret Service, the St. Paul Police Department, the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced the arrest of more than 20 individuals associated with the trafficking ring. These individuals transported girls across state lines and forced them to have sex in exchange for small amounts of marijuana and liquor. Allegedly, they also filmed the sexual acts and transmitted them via cell phones for others to view.

Charges in this case stem from an initial investigation conducted by ICE's Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the St. Paul Police Department. The two agencies had reason to believe that a Somali gang was forcing young girls into prostitution. Working off a tip, the investigation led the agencies to Tennessee where a possible victim - a runaway from Minnesota - was located. Agents confirmed that the victim was one of four underage girls being transported across state lines for prostitution.

ICE and other law enforcement agencies need your assistance to end human trafficking. If you notice suspicious activity, call ICE's Tip Line, 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.

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