ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CBSDC) — Five members of the Underground Gangster Crips have been arrested for allegedly running a prostitution ring involving high school girls.
Authorities say the gang members recruited girls ranging from 16 to 18 years old on social media sites such as Facebook and DateHookUp.com and enticed them to use their good looks to earn money through prostitution. Court documents also show girls would be recruited at bus and train stops.
Many of the girls were allegedly provided with illegal drugs and alcohol and were required to submit to sex with members of the gang as a “try out” or an “initiation” before they worked as prostitutes.
If the girls tried to leave, the gang members would threaten them with violence. One victim who tried to leave was allegedly held at knife point and raped by Justin Strom, who has been identified as the leader of the gang, and later forced to have sex with 14 men she didn’t know. Strom, who goes by the street names “Jae” or “J-Dirt,” received approximately $1,000 from the men in exchange for the sex acts.
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 Strom or other members of the gang waited in a car nearby. The girls were instructed to find apartments with multiple males inside to maximize profit.
Authorities say at least 10 high school girls have been identified as potential victims since the investigation began last November. The investigation was conducted by the Fairfax County Police Department and the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with assistance from the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force.
“The sex trafficking of young girls in an unconscionable crime involving unspeakable trauma,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride. “These gang members are alleged to have lured many area high school girls in the vile world of prostitution, and used violence and threats to keep them working as indentured sex slaves.”
“This situation is every parent’s worst nightmare,” Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli added.
The 26-year-old Strom, of Lorton, was one of three conspirators charged with conspiring to transport a juvenile to engage in a commercial sex act, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, if convicted.
Also charged were:
Michael Tavon Jefferies, aka “Loc,” 21, of Woodbridge: Arrested March 27. Alleged to have handled the money for the business, served as a bodyguard and driver and also carrying a firearm while conducting business for the enterprise.
Donyel Dove, aka “Bleek,” 27, of Alexandria: Arrested on March 24 on unrelated charges in Warren County. Alleged to have acted as a bodyguard and driver for the girls when they prostituted for the enterprise.
Henock Ghile, aka “Knocks,” 23, of Springfield: Arrested March 28. Alleged to have transported girls to appointments with clients.
Christopher Sylvia, 22, of Springfield: Arrested on March 8. Alleged to have served as a driver in the sex trafficking conspiracy.