Pat Collins reports on a Fairfax County underage prostitution ring allegedly run by gang members.
Five alleged members of a street gang based in Fairfax County were running a prostitution business that recruited teenage girls who were threatened if they refused to participate, according to federal prosecutors.
Justin Deonta Strom, Donyel Pier Dove, Michael Tavon Jefferies and Henock Solomon Ghile are named in the affidavit from the U.S. District Court. The affidavit names Strom as the alleged pimp and head of the ring, while Dove, Jefferies and Ghile allegedly acted as drivers and bodyguards for the prostitutes.
The five were charged Thursday in federal court in Alexandria. According to an FBI affidavit, the defendants are members of a Fairfax-based offshoot of the "Crips" street gang.
"The sexual exploitation, the sexual trafficking of young girls in an unconscionable crime yielding unspeakable trauma," U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said.
Court documents say the gang has been involved in numerous incidents, including armed robbery and the abduction and rape of a 16-year-old girl in 2006.
The affidavit alleges gang members recruited attractive teenage girls to participate either through Facebook or by approaching them on the street. According to the documents, Strom would create and operate fake Facebook profiles under names such as Mimi Jackson and Aaliyah Marie in order to solicit young women to become prostitutes. At least two of the girls were either beaten or cut with a knife when they tried to quit or expressed reluctance about participating.
According to court documents, the ring primarily operated in Alexandria, in the Chiriagua and Commerce Street neighborhoods, but the prostitutes were also working in Arlington, Maryland and as far away as Atlantic City, N.J.
Prostitutes worked door-to-door, and were told to find apartments with multiple male customers to minimize risk of getting caught and maximize the profits, according to the affidavit. One 17-year-old said she was taken to an apartment and forced to have sex with 14 unknown males.
Many of the victims were under 18, and Strom allegedly knew and encouraged this, with one of the victims saying he told her “younger was better because they could make more money off young girls,” according to the affidavit.
"Young women, including juveniles, were allegedly targeted, recruited, exploited, physically abused and threatened and put at risk for financial gain by others," Fairfax County Police Chief David Rohrer said.
Court documents also accuse Strom of providing the prostitutes with illegal drugs including cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy.
The prostitutes were told to charge $30 to $40 for 10 minutes, News4's Pat Collins reported.
The investigation began in November 2011, when one of the women involved in the ring told a staff member at her high school that she was involved with a pimp, later identified as Strom, who paid her money for providing sexual favors to other men.
Investigators spoke with the woman shortly after, and were told by her that she was not in danger and did not need help, according to the affidavit. She said that Strom was her boyfriend and that she was tasked with recruiting other prostitutes from her school to work for Strom.