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5 arrested, accused of forcing high school girls to be prostitutes

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer
updated 4:52 PM EDT, Thu March 29, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Alleged gang members set to appear in federal court Friday in Alexandria, Virginia
  • Charges against Underground Gangster Crips include underage sex trafficking, officials say
  • Arrests follow those of six other gang members in the past year and a half, officials say
  • Officials: At least 10 girls ages 16 to 18 were recruited, were threatened if they tried to leave

Washington (CNN) -- Authorities in Northern Virginia on Thursday busted an alleged violent gang and arrested the accused ringleader and four others on charges of forcing high school girls to be prostitutes.

The defendants, most of whom were arrested overnight, were scheduled to appear in federal court Friday afternoon in Alexandria, Virginia, on charges that include underage sex trafficking.

The alleged ringleader is identified in court documents as Justin Strom, 26, of Lorton, Virginia, a suburb of Washington. He is described as the Fairfax County, Virginia, leader of the Underground Gangster Crips. The arrests of the five alleged members of the gang follow six other arrests of members of the gang in the past year and a half, officials said.

The investigation began in September 2011, but an affidavit lists alleged crimes by the reputed gang members dating back to 2006.

Officials from the U.S. attorney's office, the Virginia attorney general's office and others say Strom and his associates recruited high school girls to work for them as prostitutes and vowed violence if they tried to leave.

Authorities identified at least 10 high school girls between 16 and 18 years of age who were recruited.

The amounts of money involved were generally small, with prostitutes often receiving $50 for performing sexual acts.

Authorities arrested Michael Jefferies, 21, of Woodbridge on Wednesday night.

He allegedly handled the money. They arrested Strom and Henock Ghile, 23, of Springfield early Thursday. Ghile allegedly transported the girls.

Donyel Dove, an alleged bodyguard and driver, was arrested on March 24 in Warren County on separate charges.

The fifth man, Christopher Sylvia, 22, of Springfield, Virginia, was arrested on March 8 as a driver in the sex trafficking conspiracy.

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