Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jury Convicts Man Who Operated a Sex Trafficking Ring

ATLANTA—After an eight-day jury trial, a federal jury convicted Soloman Manasseh Mustafa, 38, of Stone Mountain, Georgia, for operating a sex trafficking ring in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Mustafa was known for committing violent sexual acts against his victims; binding them with duct tape; taking their identification; and committing other atrocities in order to hold them captive. The jury found Mustafa guilty of sex trafficking, kidnapping, transporting women across state lines for prostitution, document servitude, and enticement of a minor for sexual activity. Mustafa and his co-defendant Kalandra Annette Wallace, 25, of Jonesboro, Georgia, were indicted by a federal grand jury on May 10, 2011. Wallace pleaded guilty on October 11, 2011, and testified against Mustafa.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of the case, “This defendant brutally assaulted young women to force them into acts of prostitution in three states. While all of the victims managed to escape from the defendant, many were beaten, raped, handcuffed, and forced to snort cocaine by the defendant and his co-conspirator. Now, he faces a lengthy sentence in federal prison.”

Brian D. Lamkin, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta, said, “Combating human trafficking begins with an aggressive investigation and culminates with a relentless prosecution. Today’s guilty verdict in one of the most heinous human trafficking matters to be addressed in this region is most heartfelt by those directly involved. The FBI is proud of the role that it played in removing an individual such as Mr. Mustafa from the streets where he preyed on and exploited these vulnerable women, to include juveniles.”

According to the indictment and evidence presented during trial: Mustafa and co-defendant Wallace recruited and enticed young women via advertisements on Internet sites such as Craigslist and Backpage, luring them into prostitution in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Mustafa and Wallace physically assaulted many of the victims, preventing them from leaving hotels or apartments and forcing them to engage in commercial sex acts.

During trial, the government presented evidence that two victims were bound with duct tape and placed in a closet. These victims, still bound with duct tape, were ultimately taken against their will to Homewood, Alabama, for the purpose of having sex with men. Other victims were forced to have sex with men, and all the money earned by the victims was required to be turned over to Mustafa and Wallace. According to the evidence, one victim had a gun pointed at her head and was ordered to remove her clothes and stand naked in a corner of the room. Other women were forced to inhale a white powdery substance that appeared to be cocaine. Two victims were handcuffed to the bed to keep them from leaving.

The evidence also showed that Mustafa communicated via text messaging with a young girl whom he believed to be 14 years old. In those text message,s he instructed the juvenile to send him photos of herself. Once Mustafa saw the photos, he told the juvenile that she could be his sex slave, and he went to the juvenile’s home to pick her up. The juvenile left her home by tying bed sheets together and climbing out the window. Fortunately, Mustafa let the young girl go in a subdivision close to her home.

Mustafa and Wallace also took the identification, telephones, and wallets of some of the victims, with the purpose of making the victims feel trapped. After one victim escaped, Mustafa and Wallace kept her identification and used it to rent hotel rooms and a house.

The sex trafficking, kidnapping, and enticement of a minor charges each carry a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentence, the court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.

Sentencing has been set for September 19, 2012, at 10 a.m. before United States District Judge Charles A. Pannell, Jr.

If anyone has any information about any human trafficking case, they are encouraged to report that information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 404-679-9000.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the FBI’s Metro Atlanta Child Exploitation Task Force, which includes the Atlanta Police Department, the Cobb County Police Department, the Fulton County Police Department, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Gwinnett County Police Department, the City of Marietta Police Department, and the Sandy Springs Police Department. Other departments that assisted in the investigation are the Holly Springs Police Department; the DeKalb County Police Department; the Clayton County Police Department; and the Homewood, Alabama Police Department.

Assistant United States Attorneys Yonette Buchanan and Nekia S. Hackworth are prosecuting the case.

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