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Two Atlanta men who ran a prostitution ring that employed underage girls and stretched from Maryland to Florida have been sentenced to 25 and 20 years in prison.
Federal prosecutors in Virginia had sought life terms for 27-year-old Edwin Barcus and 21-year-old Joshua Dumas. But U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee opted for sentences closer to the mandatory minimum of 20 years. Dumas received the shorter sentence.
Court documents indicate Barcus founded the operation, which prostituted at least 23 women and seven minors in seven states, including Virginia and Maryland as far back as 2007. Dumas, who had the word "pimp'' tattooed above his eye, and Barcus used violence and intimidation to keep girls in the prostitution ring when they wanted to quit.
Barcus and Dumas had pleaded guilty to the charges in March. In arguing for the minimum, an attorney for Barcus argued that his client did not know the seriousness of his offenses.
They recruited girls and women through backpage.com and other Internet sites and had them meet clients in hotels. Three Northern Virginia hotels named in court documents were the Homestead Studio Suites in Sterling, the Aloft Hotel in Ashburn, and the Washington Dulles Marriott Suites in Herndon. The ring was discovered in December 2012, when an undercover Fairfax County officer answered an ad on backpage.com and set up a sting operation at the Hyatt House hotel in Herndon.
Two other people have been charged with participation in the ring. Their cases are ongoing.