Crips recruit girls for hooking
5 arrested in sex trafficking
The Crips, one of the largest and most violent street gangs in the United States, spread its network of crime into high schools in Virginia, where gang leaders recruited girls as prostitutes with promises of “lots of money” and then maintained their allegiance through beatings, threats, assaults and an endless supply of drugs.
The Fairfax County-based branch of the gang recruited girls after approaching them at school, on the street or at bus and Metro stations and by making contact with them through Facebook, Craigslist and other online sites. If the girls expressed an interest, gang leaders relied on women within the organization to persuade them to have sex with multiple clients in return for cash.
Authorities in Fairfax County on Thursday announced that they had arrested five members of the local branch, known as the Underground Gangster Crips (UGC), and charged them with running a prostitution business that recruited high school girls
and threatened them with violence if they attempted to leave.
Most of the girls involved were 15 and 16 and, according to documents unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, later were afraid to report their “pimps” to the police after what law enforcement authorities described as violent and frequent beatings and threats.
Including Thursday’s charges, 11 members of area gangs have been named on charges of underage sex trafficking since 2011 as part of a number of ongoing investigations.
Justin “J-dirt” Strom, 26, of Lorton; Donyel “Bleek” Dove, 27, of Alexandria; Michael “Loc” Jefferies, 21, of Woodbridge; Henock “Knocks” Ghile, 23, of Springfield; and Christopher Sylvia, 22, of Springfield, were charged by the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Virginia in connection with a prostitution ring that operated throughout Northern Virginia. Mr. Strom was identified by the FBI as the known leader of the UGC. If convicted, each could receive a sentence of life in prison.
An FBI affidavit in the case said individual Crips gangs nationwide — with more than 35,000 members in an estimated 800 individual gangs or “sets” in more than 30 states and 120 cities — are engaging in sex trafficking as a means of making money.
With a requirement to commit acts of violence to obtain or maintain their gang membership, the Crips locally have added to their reputations as violent street thugs. In the D.C. area, they have been involved in attempted murders, assaults, rapes, robberies, thefts, drug distribution, obstruction of justice by threatening witnesses and racketeering to fund their enterprise.
“The sex trafficking of young girls is an unconscionable crime involving unspeakable trauma,” U.S. Attorney Neil H. Macbride said.
Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II called the situation “every parent’s worst nightmare” and said it demonstrated that human trafficking can happen anywhere and is “a very real danger here in Virginia.” He said the arrests “will send a swift and strong message that this criminal behavior will not be tolerated in the commonwealth of Virginia.”
Between April 2009 and March 2012, according to an affidavit by FBI Agent Jeffrey F. Johannes, 10 Virginia high school girls were recruited by UGC leaders, including a 16-year-old girl who was approached by Mr. Strom at a Metro station, told she was pretty and advised that “she could make a lot of money by having sex with men.” She and many of the other girls were required to submit to sex with members of the gang as a “tryout” or an “initiation” before they worked as prostitutes, the affidavit said.
The affidavit said the girls were told the UGC would receive $50 for vaginal sex and $20 for oral sex and they would get half the proceeds. They also were given marijuana, cocaine, Ecstasy and alcohol before and after they had sex with various men, the affidavit said. The sex generally occurred at hotels, but the girls often were told to go door to door to solicit sex in apartment buildings or town-house complexes with gang members watching from nearby cars.
When one girl told Mr. Strom she no longer wanted to participate in prostitution, the affidavit said, he choked her and threatened her.
The affidavit also said Mr. Strom threatened a 17year-old girl with a knife, cutting her on the arm when she refused to use cocaine, and forced her to have sex with him. It said she was then taken to an apartment where she was forced to have intercourse with “fourteen unknown males,” from whom Mr. Strom collected $1,000.
Two other UGC members drove to her home, telling her she “got what she had coming” and, according to the affidavit, if she spoke of the events that they would “come back and kill her.”