Somali sex-trafficking case inching toward trial in Tennessee

New readers may first wish to review stories about the indictments of 29 Somalis back in November 2010, here.

The case is expected to go to trial in March if the court and more than two dozen lawyers for the defendants can get it all together.

From The City Paper:

The federal courthouse in downtown Nashville was abuzz on Friday, Jan. 20. Outside, Occupy Nashville staged a small protest against corporate greed, using theatrics to hammer home their point.

But eight stories above, in courtroom A859, there was no acting.

Somali women, their heads wrapped in colorful cloth, smiled and waved to their family members and friends as 28 handcuffed defendants entered the room. Some of the accused returned the greetings. A federal marshal quickly stepped into the crowd and reminded one of the women in the crowd that she can wave, but can’t communicate with the defendants.


The interaction was surprisingly cordial considering the violent, socially deviant nature of the defendants’ alleged crimes. According to the federal indictment, the defendants all played a role in child sex trafficking. They are charged with transporting pre-teens and teens between three states and forcing them to engage in commercial sex acts.

The defendants are all associates or members of gangs like the Somali Mafia, the Somali Outlaws and the Lady Outlaws, according to the government.

“I would call this one of the more significant cases we’ve investigated in recent memory,” said John Morton, director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, at the time of the indictment in November 2010.

For new readers: We have admitted well over 100,000 Somali refugees to the US.   To check out the numbers visit this post, one of our most widely read posts over the last few years.   In FY2010 which ended September 30th the US State Department resettled 4,884 Somalis (here) to towns near you.   (I know, I need to update my numbers!)