Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sex Trafficking: U.S. - Traffickers Allegedly Used Internet Sites Such as Backpage and Craigslist to Recruit Women

U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Georgia

ATLANTA—SOLOMAN MANASSEH MUSTAFA, 37, of Stone Mountain, Georgia, and KALANDRA ANNETTE WALLACE, 24, of Jonesboro, Georgia have been indicted on federal charges relating to a sex trafficking ring operating in the Atlanta area. MUSTAFA was arraigned today before United States Magistrate Judge Christopher Hagy. An arraignment for WALLACE has not yet been scheduled. MUSTAFA and WALLACE face federal charges of sex trafficking, kidnapping, transporting women across state lines for prostitution, and document servitude. MUSTAFA also faces charges of receiving material involving the sexual exploitation of a minor, and of coercion and enticement of a minor for sexual activity. MUSTAFA and WALLACE were indicted by a federal grand jury on May 10, 2011.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of the case, “Sex trafficking is unfortunately one of Atlanta’s most significant criminal problems. This case, like many, contains allegations of the defendants brutally assaulting women to force them into acts of prostitution in three states. While all of the victims managed to escape from the defendants, many were allegedly beaten, raped, handcuffed, and forced to snort cocaine by the defendant and his co-conspirator before they got away.”

Brian D. Lamkin, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta, said, “The FBI remains committed to working with our various law enforcement partners in combating human trafficking and bringing forward for prosecution those individuals that would exploit others for personal gain. Public awareness of these types of crimes are not enough. Public involvement in reporting these matters to the FBI or other law enforcement is needed in turning the tide in the eradicating the scourge that is human trafficking.”

According to the indictment and other information presented in court: MUSTAFA and co-defendant WALLACE allegedly recruited and enticed young women via advertisements on Internet sites such as Craigslist and Backpage with the goal of forcing them into prostitution in the Atlanta metropolitan area, Alabama, and North Carolina. MUSTAFA and WALLACE are charged with conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking for physically assaulting many of the women, preventing them from leaving hotels or apartments, and forcing them to engage in commercial sex acts.

Specifically, the indictment alleges 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. Two other victims were allegedly forced to have sex with men and turn all of the money earned over to MUSTAFA and WALLACE. MUSTAFA’s alleged violent behavior was the same with many of the victims: he or WALLACE would pretend to want to date the women, but, instead, MUSTAFA allegedly would rape them. According to the indictment, 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 allegedly handcuffed to the bed to keep them from leaving.

MUSTAFA is also charged with receiving child pornography and attempting to persuade a juvenile to have sex with him. MUSTAFA allegedly communicated via text messaging with a young girl whom he believed to be 14 years old. In those text messages, 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.

The indictment alleges that MUSTAFA and WALLACE also took the identification of some of the victims. 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 coercion of a minor charges 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.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

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

This case is being investigated by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the FBI’s Metro Atlanta Child Exploitation Task Force which includes the Atlanta Police Department, the Gwinnett County Police Department, the City of Marietta Police Department, and the Sandy Springs Police Department. Other departments that have 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 Susan Coppedge and Nekia S. Hackworth are prosecuting the case.