Four girls allegedly forced into prostitution by Somali gangs in Minneapolis were just a small part of a wide-ranging investigation into the gangs’ alleged criminal enterprises, says the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The case against the Somali Mafia and Somalia Outlaws gangs shows investigators have been tracking an extensive financial crime operation involving hundreds of potential victims spread far beyond the Somali communities in the Twin Cities, Nashville and Columbus, Oh.
The gangs are accused of car theft, safe cracking, and a brazen break-in at a police impound lot to retrieve counterfeit credit cards and a device used to make them. The 29 people whose alleged crimes were made public Monday are accused of running an interstate human trafficking ring that sold Somali girls as young as 12 into prostitution. Local Somalis triggered the investigation in 2007 when they raised concerns about young girls and gang activity. The investigation was led by members of the Gerald Vick Human Trafficking Task Force, which includes officers from local and federal agencies. About 18 months ago, one of the victims mentioned in the indictment was found in the Nashville area during a traffic stop. On Monday, agents from federal agencies and local departments arrested at least 25 of the people indicted.