Published On: Thu, Sep 23rd, 2010

Somali gang linked to Minnesota sex trafficking

Minneapolis (Startribune) — A multi-agency investigation that reaches as far as Tennessee is focusing on a “large scale” Somali gang-run prostitution ring in Minnesota, according to court documents.

Details of the case came to a head when a Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator applied in Ramsey County for a search warrant to get the cell phone records of a 15-year-old girl, who could hold the key to the case.

The girl, known by the nickname Ayan Cherry, has a long history as a runaway, and was being promoted as a prostitute by “a group of Somalian males,” according to the affidavit in Ramsey County.

The girl was questioned in July 2009 by St. Paul police officer Heather Weyker in connection with a robbery in Richfield. She lied about her identity and involvement in prostitution, but Weyker “interviewed other witnesses of this Human Trafficking ring” and learned that the girl was “controlled by the Somalian gangs,” the affidavit said.

Authorities seized her phone to search for text messages, calls, contacts, pictures, videos and other information.

According to the search warrant affidavit filed by special agent Ann Quinn, the phone is key because the victim, identified as A.A.A., “does not have a permanent home and often stays with various members of this prostitution gang, her cellular telephone is the main way of communication that the victim has with other members of this organization to include prostitution customers.

“Your affiant believes that the recovery of the data to include photos in this telephone will assist in the investigation of this Somalian Human Trafficking Ring and may reveal the identity of suspects, witnesses and additional victims.”

According to the affidavit, Quinn spoke to members of the St. Paul Police Department, witnesses and A.A.A. “in connection with a large scale Somalian gang Human Trafficking ring based in Minnesota.”

The affidavit was filed Friday, and obtained by the Star Tribune.

The girl referenced in the affidavit testified in federal court in Nashville on July 28 in connection with the trafficking investigation, the document shows. The BCA, St. Paul police and FBI cooperated in finding and escorting the girl to Tennessee.

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The girl’s previous criminal record includes implications in assaults in Rochester and a tampering with an auto citation in Olmsted County. She had outstanding warrants in Hennepin and Ramsey counties, and is now in custody in Hennepin County.

The BCA could not be reached for comment, and St. Paul police deferred comment to the U.S. attorney’s office in Tennessee.

“We can’t confirm or deny that there’s an investigation,” said Van Vincent, assistant U.S. attorney in Tennessee.

Related court documents had been filed openly in Hennepin County, and the affidavit in Ramsey County was briefly public until a television report Tuesday night led to it being sealed.

The news surprised the Somali community in Minnesota.

“I’ve seen some of the elders and they are shocked,” said Dahir Jibreel, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center.

The ongoing FBI investigation into the young Somali-American men, who left Minneapolis to fight in Somali with the terrorist group Al-Shabab, is one of many difficult issues facing the community.

Teen gangs and teen prostitution are known problems in the community, Jibreel said, but the human trafficking is a new phenomenon. Jibreel said he did not know who A.A.A. is, but said girls who have recently arrived in the country are especially vulnerable.

The connection between Minnesota and Tennessee alleged in court documents surprised Jibreel, who said he is trying to contact Somali leaders there for more information.

Sources: CHAO XIONG and ALLIE SHAH for Star Tribune, and ABC News, Channel 5.

September 23, 2010

Displaying 27 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. Nish says:

    an absolute shock to me. I think its about time the Somali communities (worldwide) talked about these issues. We need tangible strategies!

  2. lawyo says:

    the sad ting is the whole thing is alien to Somali culture,thus we do not know how to deal,i cannot even believe that its possible a Somali man selling Somali teen age
    what is the world coming to,what is next a Somali peado'??

    • guest says:

      there more then enough of them, the problem is there our culture just hides it

    • fardus says:

      the fact that there are MANY somali men (not to mention our beloved prophet) have/would love to marry a young girl. How old was the prophets wife? 8? 9?, you're telling me you've never heard of older men marrying young teenagers? Trust me lawyo, we already have pedos.

  3. Salma says:

    its really sad to see all this happening in our community

  4. Abdurrahman says:

    Gangs care less Somalis ingeneral or particularly Somali teens as long as they are getting their deals. Welcome to USA where illegal activies are totally abandoned and can't be tolerated.
    Thanks to whoever supports justice!!!

  5. ETD says:

    I think Ethiopians are better and the girls are prettier.

  6. mohamed says:

    The girls age and the whole story..funny complicated stuff..I don't understand it all!..Let's know what this is all about.

  7. kidogo says:

    this very shocking i mean
    its just very hard situation for alot of people especially girls because there are alot good girls out there and im sure they wiil or be seeing as part of it.
    im feel sorry for dem.

  8. i always thought that ABC news is even better than CNN when delivering up to date news.:-

  9. East says:

    Where are the family's of both sides. The Dads are Sitting at coffee shop, Shisha (huka) house, chewing chat(mira), even in bars. The ladies are having kids from different dads by claiming that they are real Muslims. Let Alaha (God) for give U all. Just need someone to break the silence of parenting between Somalis.

  10. Hani says:

    why would u delete something thats the truth

  11. hani says:

    It's sad, but the truth is, culture is being lost and they are becoming Americanized

  12. the concerned parent says:

    I am ashamed to be a Somalian after I watching this news report on the human trafficking ring taking place in Minnesota. I also viewed last weeks Fifth Estate Special on the Somali Gang Violence taking place in Edmonton. After seeing all the horror taking place among our young Somali generation We can no longer say we are 100% Muslim nation. We have lost our dignity, morals, values, and reputation. We came to this country seeking a better future for our children but we are losing our children slowly.

  13. Seynab says:

    I am shocked. I can't believe this. I just hope all this is a bad dream I am having. In our culture Somali Men use to have a wars between trabes just because a boy looked Somali girl in a suspetious way or saidjokes with sexual innuendoes. How in the world is possible that the sons and gran sons of these men are selling our beatuful precious girls?? I am devastated! This is the worst than the war we run away from, becuase it destroysour culture silenty and insults our dignity as a society!

  14. ahmed says:

    well we been ashamed before,same issue happen money placeses like saudi arabia and yemen and united arab emirates

  15. abc news is of course one of the most reputable news sources these days ,""

  16. PROVE TO US says:



    "They came first for the Communists,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

    Then they came for me
    and by that time no one was left to speak up

  17. ali says:

    sad that we as a people have sold out even in australia we have a problem with drugs girls selling them selfs

  18. ali says:

    we failed as poeple in our on country it not a big leap to think that we would fail in a western country

  19. Zim says:

    I bet it's an isak girl.

    Wellcome to hargeisa .


  20. Mohammed says:

    Really shocking .i think the problem is that we are going too far from our religion.if u live every where in the world,u have to fear allah

  21. Mary says:

    This is sad news, but some things to remember._In the US, we are not completely sure how to deal with young women forced into prostitution. To be a prostitute is a crime, so sometimes those forced are treated like criminals instead of victims. The authorities are beginning to understand this and to see that these young ladies need protection and help to escape this horrible life they are forced to have often against their will. Also, sometimes they are held by the law because they have no safe place to go

  22. Mary says:

    I hope that Somali people living in the US and reading this in Somaliland will understand that we in the US understand that there are all kinds of people in every nation. If a few are suspected of misdeeds, they will have a trial and a chance to defend against the accusation. But we do not attach the misdeeds of the few to the whole community. And we are very happy that many good Somali people have joined our US community. We know that in the future the Somali community will contribute many good, educated people, the Somali people will become American and contribute values and achievments that will make us a strong , better nation. Just as all who came to the US before them have done. One sad event does not make the new Somali-American any less my brother or sister.

  23. hassan says:

    hi i wanna send me email ok

  24. Hey
    I wasent looking for that but still a great post

    how did you guys found this information??thank you for your article I saw it on Google And I bookmarked it .I like. Please send me updates

    thank you and have a nice day

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