Five members of the Underground Gangster Crips (UGC) set based in Fairfax County have been arrested for allegedly running a prostitution business that recruited high school girls and threatened them with violence if they attempted to leave. Including the charges unsealed today, 11 members of area gangs have been charged with underage sex trafficking since 2011 as part of a number of ongoing investigations.
“The sex trafficking of young girls in an unconscionable crime involving unspeakable trauma. These gang members are alleged to have lured many area high school girls in the vile world of prostitution, and used violence and threats to keep them working as indentured sex slaves,” said Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Through aggressive efforts by the Fairfax County Police Department and the FBI – and in partnership with the Virginia Attorney General’s Office and the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force – we’re working together to fight this reprehensible form of exploitation. This is the 16th human trafficking case charged in the last year in this district.”
“This situation is every parent’s worst nightmare. It also demonstrates that human trafficking can happen anywhere, and that it is a very real danger here in Virginia,” said Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, Attorney General of Virginia. “By working together with U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride and our law enforcement partners, we will send a swift and strong message that this criminal behavior will not be tolerated in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
“Like many, particularly those of us who are parents of young women, I am angered and saddened by the facts of this case,” said Colonel David Rohrer, Fairfax County Chief of Police. “Prostitution and trafficking are not “victimless” crimes; we cannot, and shall not, tolerate these acts, and we will continue to investigate and pursue those who harm others, especially our children.”
According to a criminal complaint affidavit, the prostitution business is led by Justin Strom, aka “Jae” or “J-Dirt,” 26, of Lorton, Va., who is a leader of the UGC within Fairfax County.
Strom and other UGC associates are accused of recruiting teen girls to work for them as prostitutes. They would allegedly contact teens at school or through Facebook, DateHookUp.com, and other online social networking sites and entice the girls to use their good looks to earn money through prostitution. In addition, members of the conspiracy would approach girls at bus or rail stops and attempt to recruit them into joining their prostitution business. Once a girl expressed interest, Strom is alleged to have relied on women within his organization to transition the victim into earning money for the conspirators by having sex with multiple clients.
Since this investigation began in November 2011, at least 10 high school girls between the ages of 16 and 18 have been identified as potential victims, many of whom were allegedly provided with illegal drugs and alcohol and were required to submit to sex with members of the conspiracy as a “try out” or an “initiation” before they worked as prostitutes.
The affidavit alleges that Strom and members of the conspiracy advertised their victims through online sites including Craigslist.org and Backpage.com. Strom allegedly provided “in-call” service to clients, allowing clients to use his home to have sex with victims. In addition, many victims were prostituted by walking door-to-door soliciting clients in apartment buildings or townhouse complexes, with Strom and others waiting within a car nearby. They were instructed to find apartments with multiple males inside to minimize walking in the open and to maximize profit.
In addition, many victims were allegedly threatened with violence if they failed to perform as directed, including one victim who was allegedly held at knife point and raped by Strom and later forced to have sex with 14 men she didn’t know. Strom received approximately $1,000 from the men.
Strom and three conspirators were charged with conspiring to transport a juvenile to engage in a commercial sex act, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, if convicted. The conspirators charged include:
- Michael Tavon Jefferies, aka “Loc,” 21, of Woodbridge, Va., who allegedly handled the money for the business, served as a bodyguard and driver, and is also alleged to have carried a firearm while conducting business for the enterprise.
- Donyel Dove, aka “Bleek,” 27, of Alexandria, Va., who allegedly acted as a bodyguard and driver for the girls when they prostituted for the enterprise.
- Henock Ghile, aka “Knocks,” 23, of Springfield, Va., who allegedly transported girls to appointments with clients.
Jefferies was arrested the evening of March 27, 2012, and Strom and Ghile were arrested early the following morning on March 28, 2012. Dove was previously arrested on March 24, 2012, in separate charges by authorities in Warren County and is currently in state custody.
In addition to the charges unsealed today, the court unsealed charges against Christopher Sylvia, 22, of Springfield, Va., who was arrested on March 8, 2012, for his role as a driver in this sex trafficking conspiracy.
This case was investigated by the Fairfax County Police Department and the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with assistance from the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force. Special Assistant United States Attorney Marc Birnbaum from the Virginia Attorney General’s Office and Assistant United States Attorney Inayat Delawala are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
The Fairfax County Police Department has set up a telephone number for use by anyone with information about cases in Fairfax County. That number is: 703-246-4006. You will be prompted to leave your contact information for investigators.