KATE BRUMBACK, Associated Press
A Georgia man and woman used websites to lure young women into meeting with them and then physically assaulted them, prevented them from leaving and forced them into prostitution, prosecutors said.
Soloman Manasseh Mustafa, 37, of Stone Mountain was arraigned before a federal magistrate judge Wednesday. A grand jury indicted him and 24-year-old Kalandra Annette Wallace of Jonesboro last week after prosecutors said they operated a sex trafficking ring in metro Atlanta and sometimes transported young women to Alabama or North Carolina to engage in sex acts. An initial court appearance for Wallace has not been scheduled.
"Atlanta has the unfortunate distinction of being one of the centers for sex trafficking," said first assistant U.S. attorney John Horn.
Horn said the case is very significant and, though all the victims managed to escape, he said the case illustrates the danger to young women involved and the damage that can be done.
The pair face charges including sex trafficking, kidnapping and transporting women across state lines for prostitution. Mustafa also faces charges of receiving child pornography and trying to persuade a juvenile to have sex with him. He's being held in the Cherokee County jail. His court-appointed lawyer, Judy Fleming, did not immediately return an email and a phone call seeking comment Wednesday.
The pair posted ads on websites like Craigslist and Backpage to recruit the young women between January and June 2010, according to the indictment. Five women and one minor are identified as victims in the indictment by their initials, and prosecutors said the investigation is ongoing.
One ad posted by Mustafa sought "an 'escort' who would live with him in a 'family-like' situation," the indictment says. Another posted by Wallace wanted "a person to 'be with her to make money.'" A third ad was "an 'invitation' for a person to join a 'team of prostitutes' and to be taken care of 'all expenses paid.'"
After making contact with the women, Mustafa and Wallace would often take nude or semi-nude photographs of them to post online to advertise commercial sex acts, the indictment says. Sometimes they forced the young women to have sex with one or the other of them, the indictment says.
Some victims told investigators that were forced to inhale a powdery white substance that appeared to be cocaine, and most of them reported physical abuse, such as being hit in the face. Some reported being threatened with a gun, and some reported being bound with duct tape and locked in a closet or forced to lie in bed between Mustafa and Wallace.
When the women performed sex acts for money they had to give all or most of the money to Mustafa or Wallace, the indictment says. Two of the women were bound with duct tape and taken to Alabama to have sex with men, and another was taken to North Carolina for the same purpose, the indictment says.
Mustafa accused one victim of having a romantic relationship with one of her "clients" and, to punish her, took her mobile phone, state identification card and Social Security card, the indictment says. He warned her that if she left he'd call the police and have her locked up.
Mustafa also sent text messages to a girl he believed to be 14 "regarding her becoming a 'sex slave,' having '2 masters,' and promising to purchase clothes for her," the indictment says. It says he had her send him photos, then he and Wallace went to the teen's home and encouraged her to climb out the window by tying bed sheets together. Once she was in the car, she became scared and begged to be allowed to go home, and they finally let her out in a subdivision close to her home.