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Press Release

Jury Finds Searcy Man Guilty Of Sex Trafficking Of A Minor

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Arkansas
Ms. Paulette Chappelle, Public Information Officer

      LITTLE ROCK—A Searcy man has been convicted of sex trafficking of a child at the conclusion of a two-day trial. On Wednesday, a federal jury found Muhammad Arif, 56, guilty on the sole count in the indictment: sex trafficking of children. Arif was indicted by a federal grand jury on February 4, 2020.

      The jury returned their verdict after deliberating for approximately two hours. United States District Judge D.P. Marshall, Jr. presided over the trial and will sentence Arif at a later date.

      On August 9, 2019, the Judsonia Police Department received information alleging inappropriate sexual misconduct involving a 15-year-old minor female (Minor).  The Minor was interviewed at the White County Child Safety Center. During the interview, the Minor disclosed that sometime during the end of May 2019 she accompanied her dad and his boss, Arif, to a business in Searcy. While there, Arif instructed one of his employees to drive the Minor’s dad to a different job site in Bradford. Because the Minor accompanied her dad that day, she would need a ride home. The Minor stated that Arif volunteered to drive her from Searcy to Judsonia in his private vehicle.

      The Minor stated that once alone in the vehicle, Arif stated he would give her $100 in exchange for oral sex. The Minor stated she feared no one would believe her, so she began recording their conversation using her cell phone. During the recording, Arif is heard asking the Minor to promise not to tell anyone and gave her $20. The Minor had another recording from a month later where Arif continues to bring up engaging in sexual activity and asked her not to tell anyone.

      On September 21, 2019, Arif was interviewed and acknowledged giving the Minor a ride to Judsonia in his private vehicle. He confirmed that he and the Minor were the only ones in the vehicle and that it was his first time meeting her. Arif acknowledged knowing that the Minor was a minor. During the interview, officers played the recordings and Arif confirmed he was the male on the recording. Arif stated he was embarrassed and began to express his concerns that people he was close would find out about the recordings.

      Arif faces a minimum sentence of 10 years to life in federal prison, no less than five years supervised release, and a fine of $250,000.

      The investigation was conducted by U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with assistance from the Judsonia Police Department and the Kensett Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kristin Bryant and Katie Hinojosa.

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Updated March 28, 2024

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