According to U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego, 22 alleged gang members and their associates have been charged by a federal grand jury for sex trafficking and forcing underage girls in eastern San Diego County into prostitution. Almost 100 girls and young women were allegedly involved in the interstate prostitution ring.
Federal prosecutors revealed girls and women, ranging from 12 to mid-20s, were lured into the nationwide prostitution ring by promising them a luxurious lifestyle. According to reports, if the girls didn’t obey, the gang resorted to violence. U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy stated, “Victims of sex trafficking are young, just getting started in life. They have hopes and dreams of being loved and having beautiful lives ahead of them. Gang members are exploiting these dreams and stealing the souls of children. They are crushing them with false promises that lead to physical and emotional abuse and sexual slavery.”
Investigators for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as well as agents for the FBI and detectives from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, raided and served search warrants in San Diego, Arizona, and Texas, arresting 15 people. Seven alleged gang members were already in custody. There were three woman and 19 men making up the gang known as the “Tycoons.” The gang originally formed in 2008, operating in Spring Valley and Lemon Grove, where they carried out their prostitution ring nationwide.
According to Reuters, the complaint against the “Tycoons” alleged they used social media and the Internet in order to arrange sex-trafficking meetings in Kansas, Nevada, Texas, and Arizona. The indictment and other documents allege that the gang was also involved in assaults, attempted murder, robberies, drug trafficking, commercial and residential burglaries, and beatings, as well as intimidation and threats of violence directed toward female victims, members of the community, and witnesses in criminal cases.
Eric S. Birnbaum, FBI Special Agent in Charge, stated, “The FBI will continue to collaborate with our law enforcement partners in cases like this and our Operation Cross Country initiative where we have rescued over 3,600 children from the grips of sex traffickers and hold them accountable.”
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