More than three dozen south California gang members and the owners of two motels were charged on Tuesday with running a prostitution ring that enslaved young girls who had run away from home for work. Prosecutors called the gang operation "modern-day slavery."
The indictments are the results of Operation "Vice Grip," an 18-month investigation involving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the Oceanside Police Department and the San Diego Sheriff's Office.
According to the indictments, members of at least three Oceanside Crips "cliques" conspired in a sex trafficking operation that began in 2005 and was directed by senior members, including those already incarcerated in state prisons.The prostitution ring relied heavily on the recruitment of vulnerable female minors through Internet social media such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.
According to law enforcement, gang members would manipulate the loyalty and increase productivity of the girls by giving the victims drugs and alcohol. Once the girls became dependent on their pimp, gang members sold, traded, or "gifted" the girls among one another.
Gang members also used low-cost motels to carry out its illegal activities. They rented rooms at the Oceanside Travelodge using other people's names.
The owners of the motel, Hitesh Patel and Vinod Patel, are believed to have housed gang members in rooms that were separated from legitimate customers to prevent any suspicion. The two charged higher room rates for such "dates" or "tricks," and warned gang members about any inquiries from law enforcement.
A total of 38 suspects were charged in the indictment, which was the result of an 18-month long federal investigation.
The defendants include a gang member as young as 18, and six women who served as associates of the operation. The charges include racketeering, the use of facilities of interstate commerce to promote prostitution, and drug trafficking.
"The sex trafficking of women and children is a particularly heinous crime and will not be tolerated in our communities," said Michael Carney, acting special agent in charge for ICE Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego.
"We must continue to work to dismantle and destroy sex trafficking rings here and abroad. Our goal is to not only prevent the spread of this modern day form of slavery, but to wipe it out in every form where it exists," he said in a press statement.
Jim Kouri, CPP, formerly Fifth Vice-President, is currently a Board Member of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, an editor for ConservativeBase.com, and he's a columnist for Examiner.com. In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc.
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