A Queens man was convicted on federal sex trafficking charges for allegedly luring a number of underage people into sex sales, prosecutors announced this week.
Luidji Benjamin (also known as “Zoe”), 22, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, and one count of sex trafficking of a minor, which carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Benjamin was initially charged along 18 other defendants in for the sex trafficking of at least 13 minor girls and young adults in New York State’s social services system.
“As proven in court today, Luidji Benjamin callously preyed on vulnerable girls to prostitute for his own financial gain,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said on May 15. “This sexual predator ruined the lives of at least two young women, advertising their bodies for commercial sex. Today, a jury convicted Benjamin of his horrific crimes and he now faces at least 10 years in prison for his depravity.”
According to trial testimony, over the last half of 2015, Benjamin was engaged in sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of two minor victims. He recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, and maintained women for the purpose of commercial sex, including one minor victim who lived in a treatment facility in Westchester County that provided housing for at-risk troubled children and adolescents on behalf of department of social services for certain counties in New York State.
Benjamin recruited this victim to offer commercial sex through a social media site and also listed ads on Backpage.com and Craiglist.com. Some of the advertisements would include graphic images, including of the victim performing oral sex on Benjamin. Benjamin also directed this victim to commit commercial sex acts in residences and cars around Queens.
Benjamin and a co-conspirator also recruited a second minor victim to commit commercial sex acts and would spend the proceeds on marijuana, liquor and other goods.