Maybe sex trafficking is culturally acceptable in Pakistan, but in South Dakota it is frowned upon.
An "awful lot" of Islamic immigrants who somehow managed to eek through Obama oh-so very rigid vetting process made their way to the state where they lured young girls into their prostitution ring.
The girls were as young as 12; mostly were troubled kids from white and Indian households.
• Patriots who oppose the federal government's refugee program are condemned as uncaring bigots, xenophobes, and Islamophobes.
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It was an anonymous two-story house with an outdoor side staircase, nothing that looked ominous to Kevin Koliner when he passed by going to and from work. On one evening stroll, the federal prosecutor heard loud noises but figured it was just a party. Later, he'd discover the ugly truth.
In a squalid second-floor apartment, just blocks from the U.S. attorney's office, Mohammed Sharif Alaboudi ran a violent sex trafficking ring, preying on young, troubled women. He plied them with drugs and alcohol, gave them clothes and a place to stay, and forced them to engage in sex acts with strangers. Prosecutors dubbed his place a "house of horrors."
The case of Alaboudi, now serving four life terms, offers a glimpse into how the feds are waging an aggressive campaign to root out the illicit sex trade lurking in this seemingly unlikely locale: a low-crime state dotted with sleepy hamlets.
"We're just a friendly state and I think traffickers see this as a trusting place and think, 'They're never going to catch me. They're not so bright,'" says Jenise Pischel, program coordinator at Our Home Inc., a private non-profit that has helped trafficked girls, including a 14-year-old in the Alaboudi case. "Well, we seem to be catching an awful lot of them."
In recent years, the feds have pursued about 50 sex trafficking cases, three resulting in life sentences. Bolstered by state and local authorities, they're also getting support from Native American tribes, church groups and the Junior League.
The cases have ranged from predator stings at the last three Sturgis motorcycle rallies to busts of lucrative businesses that have transported girls as young as 14 to cities around the Midwest. Police also have detected a circuit some traffickers travel that includes the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota.
Most traffickers have been transplants with criminal records; two serving life were reputed Chicago gang members. Customers, or those caught in stings, have ranged from a Texas air traffic controller nabbed at Sturgis after answering a bogus online ad offering sex with a 12-year-old (his sentence: 15 years) to a Lamborghini-driving local doctor who prescribed illegal Oxycodone to a trafficker (his punishment: 22 months.)
While trafficking exists around the nation, there's something distinctive about South Dakota: About half the women in the federal cases have been Native American, a particularly vulnerable population.
"You've got poverty, you have high, high rates of sexual abuse, which is often a precursor to prostitution and you have just a sense of desperation on the reservation in terms of day-to-day life," says Sarah Deer, a law professor at William Mitchell College in Minnesota and an expert on domestic violence in Native American communities.
Native American women with drug or alcohol problems are especially susceptible, Deer adds. "It's, 'Come to Sioux Falls. Come to Rapid City. I'll make sure that you get the crack that you need. All you have to do is do some favors.'"
A broad coalition is tackling the problem. Federal prosecutors have trained tribal law enforcement at all nine reservations on how to identify trafficking. Police have led workshops for motel workers. The Junior League has spoken about trafficking at schools, PTOs and 4-H clubs, financed billboards and prepared TV public service ads.
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