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Trafficking charges filed against two Williston men in 2015

By Amy Dalrymple Forum News Service WILLISTON, N.D. — An undercover human trafficking sting in Williston last week led to the arrests of two alleged traffickers, eight men who were seeking to buy sex and two felony drug charges. Prosecutors in Williams County filed human trafficking charges Monday against Charles David Norton, 44, and Rasheed Abdul Rahim, 42, who were arrested last week after they allegedly transported women who had placed online prostitution ads. Each man is being held in lieu of $100,000 bond for the Class A felony charges. Williston police, one of the several agencies involved with the operation, said the goal of the sting conducted Thursday and Friday was to identify possible victims of human trafficking, arrest traffickers and deter the demand for commercial sex. The total number of trafficking victims identified was unclear Monday because the investigation is still ongoing, said Williston Police Lt. Detective David Peterson. FBI victim coordinators participated in the operation and were put in contact with the victims. No underage victims were identified, Peterson said. According to court records and a press release from the Williston Police Department: Several law enforcement agencies conducted a joint sting that involved responding to escort ads placed on over a 14-hour period. One woman who arranged to meet with the undercover agents arrived at a hotel in a maroon Dodge van, which then parked in the back of the parking lot with its lights off and engine running. The woman told police that a man in the van, later identified as Norton, takes money from her prostitution jobs and pays her with food or drugs. She said earlier that day she made $500 and gave all the money to Norton. Police encountered another woman in the van with Norton who said she had engaged in prostitution in Williston two days earlier, court records say. Norton told police the second woman was his girlfriend, a former prostitute he had “rescued” from the business six months earlier. Norton said his girlfriend stays with him in Arnegard when she’s not traveling back and forth to Milwaukee, according to the court affidavit. During a bond hearing on Monday, Assistant Williams County State’s Attorney Nathan Madden requested bond be set at $100,000 because Norton had his juvenile son drive the vehicle used to deliver the women. Madden also cited Norton’s criminal history, which he said includes several convictions related to domestic violence, weapons and drugs. Norton told Northwest Judicial District Judge David Nelson he has stayed out of trouble since 2009 except for a disorderly conduct conviction in Mountrail County last year. Norton said he drives trucks and has lived in Arnegard for a year, where his son is enrolled in school. Authorities arrested Rahim under circumstances to Norton’s bust. A woman who had an ad on Backpage was dropped off by a man later identified as Rahim. The woman told police Rahim transports her to prostitution jobs, court records say. Police also found 2 ounces of marijuana while searching Rahim’s Lexus. He also faces a charge of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, a Class C felony. During a bond hearing, Madden requested $100,000 bond, citing Rahim’s criminal history that includes convictions related to running escort or prostitution businesses in other states, including a February conviction in Arizona. Rahim told Judge Nelson the vehicle involved in the human trafficking allegation was registered to the woman and she was providing him a ride. Rahim said he has worked as a pipeliner for four years and has two kids and a girlfriend he supports. Neither man appeared with an attorney Monday. Their next court appearances are April 23. The sting operation also involved the Williams County Sheriff’s Office, Northwest Narcotics Task Force and the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation. For five hours during the operation, the officers targeted johns who were seeking to buy sex and made eight arrests. These men were arrested on suspicion of solicitation of prostitution, according to Williston police. They had not been charged as of Monday: