Federal and local authorities have arrested eight members of a Los Angeles-based street gang in connection with a prostitution ring that allegedly included teenage girls recruited from Inland Empire schools.
For a year, eight gang members (both women and men) coerced seven girls from various high schools into prostitution, the FBI alleges — including one girl who was recruited at the age of 15. Authorities declined to name the schools, but did say that all the victims were teenagers.
One of the female suspects, 19-year-old Kimberly Alberti, was a student at one of the schools.
“Alberti allegedly recruited these underage females by grooming them and telling them they could make large amounts of money by working as prostitutes,” says Prosecutor André Birotte Jr. of the U.S. Attorney’s Riverside office.
He says that after agreeing to take part, the girls were brought to the L.A. area where "these so-called pimps allegedly provided them with housing and directed them where and how to offer themselves for sale,” says Briotte.
The girls were allegedly forced to work primarily from apartments and motels in Long Beach and Compton. Authorities say that while some of the girls voluntarily agreed to the keep the arrangement going, those who resisted were "verbally and physically abused" until they stayed.
In a motion seeking the detention of the defendants, prosecutors argued that the alleged pimps “assaulted several of the victims in this case by beating them, raping them, and keeping them locked up.”
“The sex trafficking of women and juveniles is a heinous and disturbing crime,” said Birotte in a press release from the Attorney's office. “The charges in this case send a powerful message to any and all persons — including street gang members — who would engage in such cruel and heartless conduct."
Authorities believe that all of the suspects have ties to, or are associates of, the Rolling 60s Neighborhood Crips street gang.
If convicted of all the sex trafficking charges, the suspects could spend 10 years to life in federal prison.