Five alleged members of a Fairfax County-based street gang have been arrested and charged with coercing teenage girls into prostituting themselves, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.
Those arrested were members of the Underground Gangster Crips street gang, according to a sworn FBI affidavit. They are accused of running a prostitution business that recruited high school girls and threatened them with violence if they attempted to leave. Many of the girls reported being assaulted, according to the affidavit.
Court documents state the ring was led by Justin Strom, 26, of Lorton, aka “Jae” or “J-Dirt.”
The documents say Strom allegedly contacted teens at area schools or through Facebook, DateHookUp.com and other online social networking sites, and enticed the girls to earn money through prostitution.
Court records say Strom provided at least 10 girls, ages 16 to 18, with drugs and assaulted many of them in an effort to force them to do his will. Strom also had at least one victim purchase a handgun for him, telling her he could not purchase it because of his status as a convicted felon, according to court records.
“Like many, particularly those of us who are parents of young women, I am angered and saddened by the facts of this case,” said Fairfax County Police Chief Col. David Rohrer in news release. “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.”
Records state Strom and other members of the alleged conspiracy approached girls at bus or rail stops, and attempted to recruit them into joining their prostitution business. Once a girl expressed interest, Strom is alleged to have relied on older, more experienced women within his organization to transition the girls into earning money for the conspirators by having sex with multiple clients.
Court records state one victim testified she was forced to ingest cocaine, perform oral sex at knifepoint, and sustained cuts on her face and arms from Strom’s violent actions against her.
“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 Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in a statement.
Strom and three others 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.
Those charged include:
ŸMichael Tavon Jefferies, 21, of Woodbridge, aka “Loc.” He is accused of handling the money for the conspiracy, serving as a bodyguard and driver, and having carried a firearm while conducting business for the enterprise.
ŸDonyel Dove, 27, of Alexandria, aka “Bleek.” He is accused of acting as a bodyguard and driver for the girls when they prostituting.
ŸHenock Ghile, 23, of Springfield, aka “Knocks.” He is accused of transporting girls to appointments with clients.
Jefferies was arrested Tuesday night; Strom and Ghile were arrested Wednesday morning. Dove previously was arrested on Saturday on separate charges by authorities in Warren County; he currently is in state custody.
In addition to the charges unsealed Thursday, the court unsealed charges against Christopher Sylvia, 22, of Springfield, who was arrested on March 8. He is accused of being a driver in the sex trafficking conspiracy.