CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A Charlotte man was found guilty Monday in federal court on multiple sex trafficking and pimping-related charges.
A federal jury deliberated for just over two hours before finding Shahid Hassan Muslim, 31, was found guilty on two counts of sex trafficking, one count kidnapping, one count production of child pornography, one count witness tampering and five counts of promoting a prostitution business enterprise.
According to evidence presented in trial, Muslim operated an extensive sex trafficking enterprise in Charlotte from 2010 until his arrest in November 2013. Prosecutors say Muslim recruited Charlotte-area girls as young as 16, then "advertised them for prostitution" on the internet. Muslim promised the girls a better life, inclusion in a family, authorities say.
"This defendant targeted vulnerable young women and girls and exploited them for his own profit, using a brutal scheme of power and control" said Acting Assistant Attorney General Moran. "This disregard of the rights and dignity of some of the most vulnerable members of our community is intolerable in a nation founded on freedom and individual rights, and the Civil Rights Division is committed to bringing human traffickers to justice."
Evidence presented during the four-day trial showed Muslim kidnapped one of the girls and "brutally" beat her after she reported him to the police. Witnesses testified that Muslim lured the girl to a hotel under the guise of a customer, attacked her, shoved her in the trunk of his car and transported her to his house, where he, reportedly, handcuffed the victim, bound her feet and continued to beat her. Further, the witness testified, Muslim put the victim in the shower, still handcuffed, turned on the cold water and left her there overnight. The girl was eventually able to escape and flee to a nearby home for help.
Further, prosecutors say Muslim intimidated two witnesses, ultimately clearing a state kidnapping charge after convincing the victim to submit a false affidavit declaring his innocence. On the second occasion, prosecutors say, Muslim harassed a victim in a federal case to submit a false affidavit claiming ownership of a sexually explicit video he produced of her when she was just 16-years-old.
"This defendant is one of the most violent and inhumane human traffickers we have ever encountered in North Carolina," said Acting Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Spradlin of ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Atlanta. "Thankfully, by working with the FBI we were able to get this monster off of the streets and begin the process of repairing the damage he has inflicted on these victims' lives."
Muslim faces a maximum a statutory maximum sentence of life in prison.