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Somali Gangs Ran Sex Ring in 3 U.S. States, Authorities Say

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twenty-nine people have been indicted in a sex trafficking ring in which Somali gangs in Minneapolis allegedly forced girls under age 14 into prostitution in Minnesota, Tennessee, Ohio and other unnamed places, according to an indictment unsealed Monday.

The indictment, unsealed in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Tennessee, said one of the gangs' goals was recruiting females under age 18, including some under age 14, and forcing them into prostitution in exchange for cash, drugs or other items.

Gang members had been conspiring to recruit young girls for the sex ring since January 2000, the indictment said.

The indictment claims three Minneapolis-based gangs were involved -- The Somali Outlaws, the Somali Mafia and the Lady Outlaws -- and that the gangs are connected. It outlines several instances when young girls were told to engage in sex acts for money, marijuana or liquor.

In one case in 2005, a 13-year-old girl was taken from Minneapolis to Columbus, Ohio, and Nashville for sex.

In another case, a girl was under age 13 when she was first forced to engage in sex acts in November 2006. Over time, she was taken to multiple locations and forced to engage in sex acts with multiple males. The indictment refers to the girl as Jane Doe Two. The Associated Press does not identify victims of sex crimes.

"Jane Doe Two was informed ... that selling Jane Doe Two for sex would be called a 'Mission.' It was a rule that members of the (gangs) would not be charged for sex with Jane Doe Two as they were fellow gang members," the indictment said. But others were charged for engaging in sex acts with the girl.

The girl was also taken to Nashville. On the way there, one of the defendants allegedly made a cell phone video of her engaging in sex acts with someone else in the vehicle. He then sent that video by cell phone to other people.

The indictment lists incidents involving four victims, but it doesn't say how many people in all were sold for sex as part of the conspiracy.

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