Pair accused of enslaving women for prostitution

A man and a woman are accused of enslaving five women by promising them a life of prostitution that apparently turned out to be nothing like what the women expected.

Solomon Manasseh Mustafa, 37, and Kalandra Annette Wallace, 24, recruited the women with ads on Internet sites such as Craigslist and Backpage that invited them to work in metro Atlanta as prostitutes in a "family-like" atmosphere, according to the 12-count federal indictment. The indictment, including counts of sex trafficking and kidnapping, was made public Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney's office in Atlanta.

The women soon learned that meant being beaten, raped and handcuffed if they resisted selling sex or decided to leave the Mustafa-Wallace family, said First Assistant U.S. Attorney John Horn. The five women were also trafficked to neighboring states.

Horn said the case, while particularly brutal, was only the latest chapter in metro Atlanta's voluminous history of sex trafficking.

"Atlanta  has the unfortunate distinction of being one of the centers for sex trafficking in the United States," Horn said. "You have these women who were kept in prostitution against their will ... by extremely brutal force."

The pair are also accused of enticing a 14-year-old girl into running away from home to join their "team of prostitutes," though Mustafa apparently was won over by the girl's pleas to release her in a subdivision near her Cherokee County home. He is charged in the federal case with sexual exploitation of a minor because he had her text him photos of her breasts and genitalia.

Experts on prostitution in Georgia say the life has lost its stigma with the younger generation today because it is glamorized in music and in videos. Instead of seeing a life of sexual servitude, the women are attracted by promises of expensive cars, clothes and clubs, said Alesia Adams, regional coordinator against sex trafficking for the Salvation Army's Southern territory.

"A lot of these victims don’t understand what real prostitution is because we are in a society that glamorizes it," Adams said. "They don’t understand the beatings, the rape and the brutalization of prostitution."

In short, Adams said, the teenagers, some underage, and young women think they will have the right to say no. They soon learn that is not the case. "There will often be multiple rapes to break the girl down," she said. "The pimp will have other persons rape her -- they call them breakers."

Mustafa and Wallace prepared at least two of the prostitutes, identified only as "D.V"  and "D. H.," by raping them in a variety of ways, then duct-taping their eyes and wrists and placing them in closets before transporting them to clients in Homewood, Ala., a suburb of Birmingham, the indictment said. Women also were transported to clients in North Carolina.

"Mustafa and Wallace caused D.V. to have sex with numerous men over several days for money, and directed D.V. to give them all the money from the sexual encounters," the indictment said. "Mustafa physically assaulted D.H. ... and told her she could not go home until she earned him a 'stack' -- $1,000 -- because she worked for him. ... Mustafa and Wallace told D.H. they had a gun and were not afraid to kill her."

Mustafa was arraigned Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Christopher Hagy. He is being held in the Cherokee County Jail on related state charges of enticing a minor, false imprisonment and sexual exploitation. Wallace has not yet been arraigned.

The case spread across metro Atlanta jurisdictions and involved the Atlanta, Gwinnett, Marietta, Sandy Springs, Holly Springs, DeKalb and Clayton police departments as well as the Homewood, Ala., police.

The women were enticed with everything from money for tuition to free food and room. One ad offered an "invitation for a person to join a team of prostitutes and to be taken care of all expenses paid," the indictment said.The audition for the position required some women to perform sexual acts on Mustafa.

“Most of the time the people are desperate who do it and they are looking for a better life, which is why they are so easy to victimize," said state Sen. Renee Unterman, who has tried to change Georgia law to view child prostitutes as victims rather than perpetrators. "Sex trafficking is an easy crime to commit. You don't have to invest a lot of money to make a lot of money off prostitution and you don't have the same risks as if you are trafficking in drugs."

Fortunately, the women were able to escape -- one by descending from an upper apartment window on rope made from bedsheets, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Nekia Hackworth, who is prosecuting the case.

Wallace and Mustafa controlled the women with beatings and threats to kill them with a pistol but also by threatening to have them arrested by the police. Unterman said pimps capitalize on prostitutes' fear of prosecution to keep them in line and also to ensure their silence in case of arrest.

Unterman said the state is finally getting serious about targeting human trafficking. The legislature passed a state law, introduced by Rep. Ed Lindsey, R-Atlanta, this past session that upped the penalties. Attorney General Sam Olens has promised to use his office to enforce the law if local jurisdictions don't make it a priority, Unterman said.

"Sex trafficking is difficult to prosecute because our society wants to go after the victim most of the time and not the true perpetrator," she said. "That is what we are trying to change in Georgia."