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Feds Charge Fairfax Gang with Prostituting High School Girls

Five 'Underground Gangster Crips' members charged in U.S. District Court in Alexandria; details of alleged crimes released by FBI.

Federal authorities charged five alleged members of a dangerous Fairfax County street gang Thursday with running a prostitution ring that recruited high school girls and threatened them with violence if they didn't cooperate.

According to an FBI affidavit, the suspects not only threatened the girls with violence, but forced them to take drugs if they refused to participate or didn't perform as directed. The suspects, who are allegedly members of the Underground Gangster Crips, face a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted.   

"Through flattery, coercion and threats of violence, they would lure these young women into prostitution," said Neil H. McBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, who made the announcement of the arrests at the U.S. District Courthouse in Alexandria alongside Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Fairfax County Police Chief Col. David Rohrer.

"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," McBride said.

Justin Strom, 26, of Lorton, is the alleged leader of the Underground Gangster Crips (UGC) in Fairfax County, an offshoot of the California-based Crips. According to an FBI affidavit, over a period of about five years, Strom recruited up to 10 high school girls from Fairfax County between the ages of 16 to 18 years-old to become prostitutes.

He allegedly found the girls at Metro stations, on the street, at schools, dating Web sites and by using a number of fake Facebook profiles. When they didn't perform or refused to participate, he allegedly beat, raped or forced them to take a number of drugs, which included marijuana, cocaine and Ecstasy, the affidavit noted.  

Strom and fellow gang members allegedly used Craiglist, Facebook and DateHookUp.com to solicit the girls, according to court documents. Investigators obtained more than 800 Facebook messages to potential victims from the fake user name "Rain Smith." Once a girl agreed to the prostitution scheme, they were required to have sex with a gang member as an initiation ritual. On the job, many allegedly frequented area motels and apartment complexes in Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax County, and charged between $20 and $100. 

Last fall, a parent of one of the underage girls discovered her daughter's situation and contacted Fairfax County Police. "Basically, one parent at least was suspicious of their daughter, or was concerned…and eventually in conversation, found out what was going on," said Cuccinelli. "Parents need to talk with their kids and be vigilant about their activities online."

Strom was arrested at his home in Lorton on Wednesday. Also arrested were Michael Tavon Jeffries, 21, of Woodbridge, and Henock Ghile, 23, of Springfield —both alleged bodyguards and drivers. 

"All three were reportedly shocked and surprised," said Rohrer. "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." 

Other alleged accomplices include Christopher Sylvia, 22, of Springfield, who was arrested on March 8, and Donyel Dove, 27, of Alexandria, who is in state custody for an unrelated charge. 

Once in the gang's prostitution ring, it was hard to get out, according to the affidavit. Strom allegedly slammed a girl's head into a car window after she refused to ingest cocaine, according to court records. The victim later told investigators that she was forced to take the cocaine, and then commit sex acts on Strom with a knife at her throat. When she tried to refuse, Strom allegedly cut her arm and then raped her. She was then taken into an apartment and forced to have sex with 14 unknown males. 

"She (the victim) recalls Strom being present for the fruition and collecting approximately $1,000 afterwards from the men," according to the affidavit.  

The Fairfax County Police Department's Gang Investigations Unit has investigated several crimes committed by members of the UGC: 

  • Dec. 19, 2005, a 15-year-old girl was raped and robbed in her home by UGC gang members, who later admitted their guilt.
  • Jan. 7, 2006, a taxi cab driver was robbed at gunpoint by a known UGC member. 
  • Dec. 28, 2006, a 16-year-old girl was abducted and raped by UGC members at Springfield Mall.
  • May 1, 2007, a man was the victim of a UGC strong-arm robbery.
  • November 2011, the Fairfax County Police Department and the FBI launched an investigation into the UGC prostitution operation.

Today's arrests mark 11 members of area gangs to have been charged with underage sex trafficking this year. The case was investigated by the Fairfax County Police Department and the FBI's Washington Field office with help from the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force.

 

Gail Spencer March 30, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Life in Prison, WITHOUT the possibility of Parole!!! That's the only sentence good enough for these scum. And it's great they provided pictures of all the gang members on Facebook. What a bunch of losers!!!
C. Marchionna March 30, 2012 at 03:02 PM
James, this is a great piece of work. I hope these young men get their due.
Anjaulyeke March 31, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Gail , You are a very sad person , and your comment alone are the sign of a narrow mind,closed minded individual. You read and article and convicted these young men before the facts have been uncovered. You are the dream of all prosecutors, and police officer who care more about winning a case than seeking Justice. You are quick to Judge , need I say more . ~Peace The Advocate
Keepitreal April 01, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Everyone stand and get your 15 minutes of fame, Gottem' no need to investigate any further. We know the story cause the family told us so. They were suspicious of their daughters activities, my questions is this was it the out ward signs of abuse ? or extra money ? What made the parents suspect something was going on ? Or did the parents just out right catch her in the act ? Did she get arrested for prostitution ? It is obvious she wasn't talking to her parents about it , so why now ! What happened to bring this prostitution ring out? Was this girl comming home at night or was she held against her will? And if she was free to go home at night WHY did she keep going back? You have only given one case here, so I am waiting to see how many more were in this ring before I believe this story. And oh by the way who were the costumes that were sleeping with the ladies ? Shame on all of you b/c we can't have a prostition ring with out the demand . Open your eyes folks maybe things aren't as rosy as you want to believe! Prostitution rings don't just appear out of no where, and where did the name underground crips originate from? Oh let me guess it is a homegrown group. Well more things to ponder??????
KC April 02, 2012 at 04:01 PM
I support "innocent until proven guilty," but the alleged victim should receive the same. Your statement, "And if she was free to go home at night WHY did she keep going back?" is telling. A common scenario is the child is told that if they tell, or don't come back, they, or most likely their family/friends, will be hurt or killed. It doesn't take much...a photo or two, or information to which they shouldn't be privy, to convince the child the threat is real. The people profiting from the sale of others aren't all drug addicted bums; many are savvy (albeit, soulless) business people who will use every weapon available, including psychological manipulation, to get whatever it is they want. They are the real-life bogeymen (& women) who choose to profit from something which has always been in demand; flesh. Guilty or innocent, these cases demand serious attention, not dismissed out-of-hand.
James Cullum April 09, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Sorry folks, but had to remove a comment for being profane.
ree May 01, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Some of these purported facts don't add up or make sense. The notion that multiple girls could be recruited into prostitution simply by an unknown party sending them "flattering" messages on Facebook or Craigslist? That seems highly unlikely and I can attest to having absolutely no success whatsoever trying to recruit girls from those venues for romantic purposes. If he was really that smooth, he would be the world's greatest salesman. Allegedly one of the prostitutes was forced to have sex with 14 unknown males, after being raped by the ring-leader and force-fed cocaine? How did she manage to keep count? Moreover that seems like a lot of guys to be in one place at the same time, all queued up on short notice for an impromptu orgy. Four or five might be believable but not 14 guys all together at the same time. Furthermore it is odd that none of the 14 would raise any objection to raping an allegedly unwilling victim. Cocaine is not free, so why would they "force" someone to take cocaine? Why didn't the alleged victims contact the police themselves? This is Fairfax County, not Columbia or Mexico. We don't have roving squads of kidnappers and killers to be afraid of. There is practically a cop on every corner, all armed to the teeth and ready to shoot or arrest a suspect at the drop of a hat. This story does not ring true. There might be elements of fact, but it seems filtered and embellished, and likely has hidden sides.
James Cullum July 01, 2012 at 07:10 AM
Two more profane comments! Please watch the language, folks!

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