Sioux Falls – The low key state of South Dakota has been recently investigated by federal authorities due to heavy sex trafficking activity. The ever so friendly state has encountered a serious problem with sex traffickers, yet police and authorities have chased 50 suspects and given three life sentences.

Additionally, they have prosecuted customers as well a high profile trafficker, Mohammed Sharif Alaboudi. Alaboudi received four life terms and was running a sex ring in an apartment close to the US attorney’s office. At his trial, four young women told graphic stories of how he prostituted and sexually abused them and threatened and physically assaulted them if they resisted.

South Dakota has 14.6 percent of its residents living in poverty, just below the 15.3 percent national average. Ziebach County, encompassed completely by the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, has held the country’s highest poverty rate since 2004. Photo: Fabrizio Bensch /Reuters.

Law professor Sarah Deer believes that South Dakota is the best location for sex trafficking to take place because although it is considered a southern, rural, safe state, it has high rates of poverty, sexual abuse, a sense of desperation, and long highways without any police enforcement.

Authorities have stated that many of the victims were Native American women with backgrounds of sexual, drug, or alcohol abuse. A coalition of federal prosecutors, police, Junior League and 4-H clubs have taken a stance on the issue and have therefore trained tribal law enforcements in the nine reservations in the state, given workshops to motel worker, financed billboards and public service announcements for television.

Brandon Thompson, one of the traffickers, controlled around 20 young women who he met by constant appearance near a high school. He pleaded guilty in 2011 to sex trafficking and solicitation to murder a federal witness and is now serving life sentence, according to the Boston Herald. Prosecutors of his case say that this approach of seeking out young women from broken homes and history of substance abuse is typical for traffickers.

Action is being taken far beyond law enforcement. Shelters for the victims will be opened in the southern region of the state and will be run by a nonprofit organization called Wiconi Wawokiya, which aids abused children and survivors of violence and sexual assaults.

Source: Missoulian