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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Queens Man Convicted In Manhattan Federal Court Of Sex Trafficking Offenses

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that LUIDJI BENJAMIN, a/k/a “Zoe,” was found guilty of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and sex trafficking of a minor following a five-day jury trial before U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said:  “As proven in court today, Luidji Benjamin callously preyed on vulnerable girls to prostitute for his own financial gain.  This sexual predator ruined the lives of at least two young women, advertising their bodies for commercial sex.  Today a jury convicted Benjamin of his horrific crimes and he now faces at least 10 years in prison for his depravity.”       

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment and evidence presented during the trial in Manhattan federal court:

From late 2015 to December 2015, BENJAMIN engaged in sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of two minor victims.  BENJAMIN recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, and maintained women for the purpose of commercial sex, including one minor victim (“Victim-1”) who resided at a residential treatment facility located in Westchester County, which provided housing for at-risk troubled children and adolescents on behalf of department of social services for certain counties in New York State.

BENJAMIN recruited Victim-1 to engage in commercial sex through a social media website, and he used Backpage.com and Craiglist.com, online classifieds websites, to post advertisements for commercial sex.  Certain of these advertisements included graphic images, including of Victim-1 performing oral sex on the defendant.  BENJAMIN directed Victim-1 to engage in commercial sex acts in cars and residences throughout Queens, New York. 

The defendant and a co-conspirator also recruited a second minor victim (“Victim-2”) to engage in commercial sex acts.  BENJAMIN and his co-conspirator spent the proceeds of this scheme on marijuana, liquor, and other goods for themselves. 

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BENJAMIN, 23, of Queens, New York, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, and one count of sex trafficking of a minor, which carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.  The minimum and maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants would be determined by the Court.

This prosecution is part of an ongoing investigation that, including BENJAMIN, has charged 19 defendants, set forth in eight indictments, for the sex trafficking of at least 13 minor girls and young adults in New York State’s social services system. 

Any individuals who believe that they have information that may be relevant to this investigation should contact the FBI at (212) 384-1000 or https://tips.fbi.gov/.

Mr. Berman thanked the FBI and the NYPD for their outstanding work in this matter and, in particular, the New York Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force.

This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Mollie Bracewell, Jacob Gutwillig, and Richard Cooper are in charge of the prosecution. 

Topic(s): 
Human Trafficking
Press Release Number: 
19-155
Updated May 15, 2019