Crips re­cruit girls for hook­ing

5 ar­rested in sex traf­fick­ing

The Washington Times Daily - - Front Page - BY JERRY SEPER

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.”

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