United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Mohammed Sharif Alaboudi, age 45, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was found guilty of four counts of sex trafficking, including sex trafficking by force and sex trafficking of a child. The guilty verdicts followed a four-day federal jury trial in Sioux Falls. Each of the four counts carries a maximum prison term of life. Three counts carry mandatory minimum prison terms of 15 years.
In 2011, the Sioux Falls Police Department (SFPD) Street Crimes Unit began investigating a criminal organization operating in and around Sioux Falls. Witnesses identified several individuals they claimed had been selling narcotics and prostitutes. In January 2012, the SFPD requested federal assistance, and a team consisting of the Department of Homeland Security–Criminal Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the SFPD, and the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation began investigating the case.
Investigators discovered that Alaboudi was living in a one-bedroom, upstairs apartment in a house several blocks from downtown Sioux Falls. Girls and young women, many homeless and suffering from addiction, would frequent Alaboudi’s residence where he provided drugs and a place to stay. At trial, victims and other witnesses described how, once they were there, Alaboudi would use violence and drugs to force them into having sex with him and with other men who would come to the apartment and pay Alaboudi with drugs and money.
“Alaboudi operated a house of horrors right here in South Dakota. He lured women and young girls to his home and then kept them high on drugs and alcohol while forcing them to engage in sex acts with strangers,” said Johnson. “This case reminds us that when people fall through the cracks in our community, there are sexual predators waiting in the wings to exploit them. Thanks to the outstanding work of law enforcement, Mr. Alaboudi’s days of preying on the most vulnerable citizens in our community are over.”
Alaboudi was indicted by a federal grand jury on November 6, 2012, as a co-defendant of Emmanuel Nyuon, alleging the two men conspired to engage in the sex trafficking of one child victim. On March 6, 2013, the grand jury added additional charges against Alaboudi regarding another child victim and an adult victim. Alaboudi’s and Nyuon’s cases were severed on March 11, 2013. A count regarding a fourth victim was added against Alaboudi on May 8, 2013. Nyuon was convicted on April 5, 2013, following a separate jury trial, and he is currently serving a federal prison sentence of 30 years.
“The Civil Rights Division commends the District of South Dakota for vindicating the rights and dignity of some of the most vulnerable members of our society—the homeless young women and girls the defendant cruelly exploited and sold for sex,” commented Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “When human traffickers prey on those hidden in the shadows, destroying human lives for their own profit, they offend the values of liberty and justice for all that lie at the heart of our nation. We are committed to bringing these traffickers to justice.”
This case was investigated by the SFPD, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security—Criminal Investigations, and the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevin Koliner and Jeff Clapper prosecuted the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit: www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
A presentence investigation was ordered. Alaboudi was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and a sentencing date will be set.