This is a sickening topic, but someone has to cover it. Ironically, the Justice Dept. was recently outed as having a child pornography problem in their ranks. At least they’re busting these bad guys outside their ranks. Now we have to pressure the Justice Dept. to bring accountability to their own, but that’s something we’ll deal with more fully in future posts.
From the FBI:
It’s yet another reason why parents need to keep a close eye on their kids’ involvement with social networking websites—during a three-year period ending in March 2012, members of a violent Virginia street gang used some of these websites to recruit vulnerable high-school age girls to work in their prostitution business.
After a multi-agency state and federal investigation, all five defendants pleaded guilty to various federal charges related to the sex trafficking conspiracy. The leader of the gang—27-year-old Justin Strom (pictured above with money in his hand) —was just sentenced on September 14 to 40 years in prison, while the sentences handed down for the other four defendants totaled 53 years.
Strom headed up the Underground Gangster Crips (UGC), a Crips “set” based in Fairfax, Virginia. The Crips originated in Los Angeles in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and since then, the gang has splintered into various groups around the country. Law enforcement has seen a number of Crips sets in the U.S. engaging in sex trafficking as a means of making money.
That’s certainly what was happening in Virginia. Strom and his UGC associates would troll social networking sites, looking for attractive young girls. After identifying a potential victim, they would contact her online using phony identities…complimenting her on her looks, asking to get to know her better, sometimes offering her the opportunity to make money as a result of her looks.
If the victim expressed interest (and many did, being young and easily flattered by the attention), Strom or one of his associates would ask for her cell phone number to contact her offline and make plans to meet.
After some more flattery about their attractiveness, sometimes hits of illegal drugs and alcohol, and even mandatory sexual “tryouts” with Strom and other gang members, the girls were lured into engaging in commercial sex, often with the help of more senior girls showing them the ropes. The girls might be sent to an apartment complex with instructions to knock on doors looking for potential customers…or driven to hotels for pre-arranged meetings…or taken to Strom’s house, where he allowed paying customers to have sex with them.
In addition to using the Internet, Strom and his associates recruited vulnerable young girls from schools and bus and rail stops. He also went online to find customers—postings ads on various websites showing scantily-clad young women.
Some of the juvenile victims were threatened with violence if they didn’t perform as directed and many were given drugs or alcohol to keep them sedated and compliant.
Read the whole story here.