By Reg Chapman

By Reg Chapman, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Federal authorities say they’ve busted up a sex trafficking ring based in the Twin Cities. They say 29 people are behind the ring that forced girls as young as twelve to have sex for money and drugs.

The girls were allegedly taken from the Twin Cities and then brought to Columbus, Ohio and Nashville, Tenn.

Many in the Somali-American community are stunned and angry that girls as young as 12 years old were forced into sex acts over a 10-year period.

Twenty-nine people have been indicted, accused of sex trafficking juveniles.

“I’ve seen the list and I am really disappointed,” remarked Said Ali.

Mohamoud Treek is chief editor of Bartamaha, a Somali language news website.

“It is a failure. They failed the community,” said Treek.

He said news of human trafficking in the community has many wanting answers and looking for help.

“What we need to know right now is who we should talk to, how can we educate parents? Need to get education and find out A-B-C, what to do and how to do it,” said Mahamed Cali.

Cali said religious leaders have been talking with parents for months.

“The mosque, the Imam has already make a speech. They talk about this issue. They said, ‘This is the problem and this is unacceptable,’ and they talk about what our religion stands for on this issue,” said Cali.

“According to Islam, this is forbidden,” said Imam Abdighani Ali.

Abdighani Ali said no Muslim condones this type of activity or behavior. He said it was the elders who first brought the concern to the Imams and then police.

Seventeen people in the Twin Cities are in custody, nine in Tennessee and three are still on the streets.

“It’s very unethical and unlawful and its very shame to hear this kinds of news especially in the Somali community on top of that the Muslim community,” said Abdighani Ali.

Many in the Somali-American community say a lack of resources for young people is one reason some get into the sex trade.

Others are intimidated and afraid for the lives of themselves and their families.

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