CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a man convicted of running a sex trafficking operation that recruited women and girls as young as 16 years old into prostitution has been sentenced to life in prison.
A statement from the U.S. Department of Justice says the sentence for Shahid Hassan Muslim, 33, was handed down Tuesday. A federal jury found Muslim guilty last August of multiple charges, including sex trafficking, kidnapping, production of child pornography, witness tampering and promoting a prostitution business enterprise.
The statement said evidence showed Muslim's sex trafficking enterprise operated in Charlotte and other cities from at least 2010 until his arrest in November 2013. The evidence showed he recruited young women and girls from the Charlotte area and advertised them for prostitution on the Internet.
Prosecutors said he lured them into his scheme by promising they would be part of a "family" when they had none. Once the women and girls were a part of his enterprise, Muslim demanded all of their proceeds and used violence to control them. As one witness explained, he never hit the victims in the face because it would damage his "merchandise."
Additional evidence also showed that Muslim kidnapped one of the victims and viciously beat her after she left and reported him to the police. Prosecutors say he convinced the kidnapping victim to submit a false affidavit declaring his innocence, resulting in dismissal of state charges. He further harassed a victim in the federal case to submit a false affidavit regarding a sexually explicit video that he produced of her when she was 16 years old.
"Shahid Muslim is a ruthless predator who used lies to lure vulnerable young women and underage girls into his criminal enterprise," U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose said. "But instead of finding the better life his young victims had been promised, they endured unspeakable violence and exploitation in the hands of Muslim for his financial gain."