Somalis accused over US child sex trafficking ring

image captionJohn Morton says the US authorities will bring sex traffickers to justice

US officials say 29 people are facing charges over their involvement in an alleged sex trafficking ring run by Somali gangs.

They are accused of recruiting under age Somali and African-American girls and forcing them into prostitution, moving between the states of Minnesota, Tennessee and Ohio.

The gang operated for 10 years, targeting girls as young as 12 or 13.

All but three of the suspects have been arrested.

Investigators say the ring involved three gangs based in the city of Minneapolis - the Somali Outlaws, the Somali Mafia and the Lady Outlaws.

They are accused of running the interstate trafficking network in order to fund their lifestyles.

The director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), John Morton, said the case was significant because the girls were repeatedly victimised over several years and transported to many places.

"Human traffickers abuse innocent people, undermine our public safety and often use their illicit proceeds to fund sophisticated criminal organisations," he said.

"ICE is committed to bringing these criminals to justice and rescuing their victims from a life in the shadows."

The defendants also face charges of obstructing the investigation, lying to a federal grand jury, stealing a car and engaging in credit card fraud.

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