ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CBSDC/AP) — Two men linked to a Virginia-based offshoot of the Crips street gang have pleaded guilty to their roles in running a prostitution ring that recruited high school girls.
Twenty-one-year-old Michael Jefferies of Woodbridge and 23-year-old Christopher Sylvia of Springfield pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Alexandria to a single count of sex trafficking involving juveniles. They each face a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison.
The two were among five arrested last month in what prosecutors said was a long-running prostitution ring. Gang members would recruit girls at school or by approaching them on the street. Some were plied with drugs and alcohol; others were threatened with violence if they tried to quit.
One victim who tried to quit was allegedly held at knife point and raped by the alleged gang leader and later forced to have sex with 14 men she didn’t know.
The gang advertised the prostitution services on websites such as Craigslist.org and Backpage.com. In addition to offering “in-call” services, the girls were forced to walk door-to-door to solicit clients in apartment buildings or townhouse complexes while members of the gang waited in a car nearby. The girls were instructed to find apartments with multiple males inside to maximize profit.
At the time the arrests were announced last month, authorities said they had identified at least 10 high school girls as potential victims.
Jefferies admitted serving as a bodyguard for the ring. Sylvia admitted serving as a driver.
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