Epic trial taking shape in Tennessee for 23 Somalis charged in sex trafficking case

By all accounts it could be the largest trial in Tennessee history.  And, what has everyone surprised is that none of those who will stand trial in Nashville next month have cracked and asked for a plea bargain.

We first reported this story here in November 2010 and more recently here.

From The Tennessean:

Nearly two dozen defendants accused of participating in an interstate sex trafficking ring are scheduled to go before a federal jury next month in what is shaping up to be one of the biggest — and most unusual — trials in Middle Tennessee history.

In an era when limited resources and risk aversion have resulted in a dramatic rise in the number of cases that end in plea agreements rather than jury trials, not even one of the 30 defendants in the case has agreed to plead guilty, setting the stage for a massive trial in downtown Nashville that is raising a variety of issues both legal and logistical.

Twenty-nine people, mostly Somalis from the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, were charged in November 2010 with running a prostitution ring that sold Somali girls as young as 12 years of age in cities including Nashville. A 30th defendant was indicted in May 2011. In addition to sex trafficking and conspiracy, the defendants also are accused of alleged crimes such as credit card fraud and burglary.

Somalis don’t rat on each other so many believe that is what is keeping any of them from cracking.   Actually I’ve followed lots of Somali crime stories in different locations throughout the US and Canada and it is this African cultural practice that has made it so difficult for law enforcement to solve crimes involving Somalis.  Remember they didn’t grow up with the same prohibitions about lying that those of us who had a Judeo-Christian upbringing have been taught.  Frankly, they lie.

Observers are chalking up the lack of plea agreements in the case to a number of factors.


“The Somalis have a cultural thing about testifying against each other,” said former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Ed Yarbrough, who agreed that the trial is on course to be the largest, in terms of the number of defendants, in Nashville history. “I think it’s cultural. That’s what I’ve been told.”

Read the whole story, but this last paragraph shows us again that even while on trial they are whittling away at our judicial system.

The trial, expected to last months, will require modifications of Haynes’ courtroom to ensure there is enough space for the defendants and attorneys. The judge also has granted the defendants’ request to take breaks consistent with Muslim prayer times.

Yes, indeed! I expect they will put on quite a show in the good judge’s courtroom.