Five alleged members of a violent street gang based in wealthy Fairfax County, Virginia, have been charged with running a prostitution ring that recruited high school girls who were threatened, beaten or knifed if they refused to participate.
The five — including accused leader Justin Strom, 26, of Lorton — were charged in papers unsealed today in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. According to an FBI affidavit, the defendants are members of an offshoot of the Crips street gang known as the Underground Gangster Crips.
Court documents state that the gang members recruited attractive teenage girls either through Facebook, by approaching them on the street or at school. Several of the girls were allegedly either beaten or cut with a knife by Strom when they tried to quit or expressed reluctance about participating.
Since the investigation began in November, authorities identified at least 10 high school girls between the ages of 16 and 18 as potential victims. Some participated voluntarily; others were threatened or plied with illegal drugs, and still others were beaten after they tried to quit.
Many of the girls were required to have sex with Strom, who used the aliases ‘Jae Dee’ and ‘J-dirt,’ and other gang members as part of a tryout or initiation, according to court documents. The ringleader also provided the girls with condoms and drugs including, marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy.
In some instances, gang members took girls door to door in apartment complexes in Arlington to solicit work. Girls were told that apartment buildings with multiple males would minimize walking out in the open and maximize profits.
Girls were paid $20 to $100 to engage in sex acts, and were supposed to be allowed to keep half of the money, according to the affidavit.
The others charged are Michael Tavon Jefferies, 21, of Woodbridge; Donyel Dove, 27, of Alexandria; Henock Ghile, 23, of Springfield; and Christopher Sylvia, 22, of Springfield.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, which is prosecuting the case, says it has now charged 11 gang members with sex trafficking since 2011 as a result of three separate investigations, including one focused on the MS-13 street gang.
U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said that gangs are increasingly moving toward crimes like sex trafficking as moneymaking ventures.
‘It’s something that they think they can get away with,’ said MacBride, whose office has made human trafficking cases a priority.
MacBride said nearly all of the girls were initially recruited by flattery, being told that they were attractive and could use their looks to make money. While the charges explicitly reference 10 girls aged 16 to 18 who were victims of the prostitution ring, MacBride said it is likely that there were many more as evidence suggests that the ring was operating for at least five years.
‘The allegations here involve really unconscionable crimes,’ he said.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, whose office assisted in the investigation, called the allegations ‘every parent’s worst nightmare’ and said the case ‘demonstrates that human trafficking can happen anywhere, and that it is a very real danger here in Virginia.’
Strom’s lawyer, Alan Yamamoto, said he was only recently appointed to the case and had not yet had a chance to meet his client, and declined to comment. Court records list an attorney for only one of the other four defendants, and he did not immediately respond to phone messages on Thursday.
Source: Daily Mail
Feds: Fairfax Gang Pimped Teen Prostitutes: MyFoxDC.com
From Washington Examiner:
A 17-year-old girl who responded to a Facebook message saying she was pretty and could make money told police that she ended up being forced to give oral sex at knife point and coerced into having sex with 14 men in one night.
The person named “Rain Smith” who sent that Facebook message was actually 26-year-old Justin Strom, the leader of the Underground Gangster Crips — a Fairfax County-based division of the Crips gang — and had sent more than 800 similar solicitation messages to other girls, according to authorities and a criminal complaint unsealed Thursday.