Six Acquitted by Nashville Jury in Somali Sex Trafficking Ring

Assistant U.S. Attorney Van Vincent speaks to reporters outside the federal courthouse in Nashville.

A jury in Nashville has acquitted most of the gang members on trial in the case of a multi-state sex trafficking ring. It involved mostly Somalis and ran between Minnesota and Tennessee. Only three of the accused were convicted.

A total of nine were on trial, and those found guilty face possible sentences of life in prison. Of those found not guilty, some face other charges. But two will be released immediately.

During the three-week trial, defense attorneys contended one of the underage girls willingly had sex with the defendants but lied to protect her conservative Somali family.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Van Vincent says he supports the jury’s finding, even after spending years prosecuting the case.

“I wouldn’t say that this establishes that it’s more difficult to prosecute a sex trafficking ring than another activity. Just in this particular case the jury didn’t find the proof beyond a reasonable doubt as to those individuals.”

There are others who were indicted and could still face trial. A total of 30 were charged. Most are originally from Somalia but lived in St. Paul, Minnesota, which has one of the country’s largest Somali communities.

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