Alleged Gang Members and Associates Indicted in Cross-Country Sex Trafficking Conspiracy
SAN DIEGO—Twenty—two alleged gang members and associates are charged in a federal grand jury indictment with participating in a racketeering conspiracy involving the cross-country sex trafficking of underage girls, including many who were recruited from East County middle and high schools.
Early this morning detectives and agents from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI, with assistance from other agencies, made 14 arrests and served 11 search warrants here and in Hemet, California; Tucson, Arizona, and Austin, Texas. Just one defendant remained at large at midday; seven were already in state custody. Some of the local defendants are scheduled to make their first court appearances tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruben Brooks.
The indictment, unsealed today, alleges that the defendants are associated with a relatively new gang formed in 2008 called “Tycoons,” which, until this morning, operated a nationwide prostitution enterprise primarily from its base in Lemon Grove and Spring Valley.
According to the indictment and other court documents, the enterprise was also involved in other crimes such as attempted murder, assaults, drug trafficking, robberies, residential and commercial burglaries, and beatings, intimidation and threats of violence against female victims, witnesses in criminal cases and members of the community.
Over the course of the two-year investigation, law enforcement identified approximately 100 girls and young women—as young as 12 years old, up to the mid-twenties—who were manipulated with promises of a lavish lifestyle or were forced through threats or actual violence to work as prostitutes for the enterprise, according to a search warrant.
Many of them were recruited on school campuses in East County by pimps and experienced, high-ranking prostitutes, the warrant said. During the course of the conspiracy, the girls and women were transported from San Diego County to customers in California and beyond—to Texas, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada and elsewhere, the indictment said.
The defendants allegedly used a number of methods to manipulate the recruits, including false promises of a luxurious lifestyle, intimidation, and actual or threatened violence. Court records indicate that the alleged pimps regularly furnished drugs and alcohol to lower the recruited prostitute’s inhibitions and increase her productivity.
“Victims of sex trafficking are young, just getting started in life,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “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.”
The ranks of “Tycoons” are mostly made up of documented gang members from gangs all over the county, including the West Coast Crips, Neighborhood Crips, Lincoln Park, Skyline Piru (Eastside Piru), O’Farrell Park, 5/9 Brims, Emerald Hills and Linda Vista Crips. These gang members have a sort of dual membership in Tycoons. Within Tycoons, there are cliques known as PGF, for Playgirl Fantasy; Tycoon/Additup; and BYB, or Break Your Bitch.
According to court documents, members of Tycoons are akin to a crime family, where all members work together committing various crimes for the purpose of making money. The indictment alleges that the defendants took on different responsibilities within the criminal enterprise. Some managed prostitutes and transported them all over the country. Some forcefully coerced the girls and young women into prostitution and maintained their obedience and loyalty through acts of violence. Some handled the money. Some placed advertisements to generate business or booked motel rooms in which acts of prostitution took place; and others distributed drugs and committed other crimes.
For that reason, the defendants are charged with racketeering conspiracy—the statute traditionally used for organized-crime syndicates and mobsters. But as criminal street gangs such as these join forces and become more sophisticated and prolific in their illicit business pursuits, this statute is an effective tool to address all aspects of the criminal conduct.
This is the third time the U.S. attorney’s office here has used the racketeering statute to charge large numbers of gang members with operating a criminal enterprise that included drugs, human trafficking, and violence. In the first case, 39 Oceanside gang members and associates were charged with racketeering, and, to date, 35 have pleaded guilty. The second involved gangs in North Park; that case is pending, with three guilty pleas so far.
The investigation began as a result of information provided by members of the East County community who saw troubling signs and reported them. Duffy said she is encouraged that community members came together to address this problem.
“They did not look the other way,” Duffy said. “They saw signs of trouble, and they reported it. As a result, girls and young women exploited in this case have been extended a path from misery to safety, and we have started on a path to end this criminal enterprise.”
“This investigation was initiated through the vigilance of parents and school resource officers,” commented Sheriff Bill Gore. “Local, state, and federal law enforcement will always collaborate and bring to bear all resources available, when the safety of our youth is at stake. I’m very proud of the work done today, and during the entire course of this matter.”
“This investigation pulls back the curtain on a growing threat involving sexual exploitation occurring in plain sight,” said Joe Garcia, interim special agent in charge for HSI in San Diego. “As part of the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign, HSI agents are committed to combating human trafficking in collaboration with our law enforcement partners. In doing so, we need the public’s assistance in reporting suspicious activity, which is even more critical when the targets involve our local area teenagers.”
“Exploiting and harming America’s children through sex trafficking is a serious crime with detrimental effects to the victims and our communities,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge, Eric S. Birnbaum. “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.”
Criminal Case No: 14cr3537BAS
- James Terelle King, 23
- Michael Dean Richardson, 21
- Andrew Damon Richardson, 22
- Brian Keith Scott, 22
- Alondre Shamil Dickerson, 20
- Anthony Robert Dennison, 22
- Keyon Renta Gill, 30
- Donavyn Keith Dove, 21
- Ryan Mcintoch Izumi, 22
- William Henry Mitchell, 23
- Jordan Renee Mitchell, 21
- David Michael Stokes, 21
- Christian Darwin Wilcox, 21
- Marquis Dominique Davis, 21
- Cortes Tizzaro Prater, 23
- Emmanuel Gumataotao Farol, 20
- Donald Mickey Stokes, 21
- Wiley Junius Greeno, 23
- Deija Renee Lamb, 19
- Joseph Benjamin Taylor, 21
- Frank Gibson III, 20
- Christal Marie Torres, 24
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Conspiracy to Commit RICO in violation of Title 18, U.S.C. 1962(d); Maximum Penalties: Life in prison, $250,000 fine, up to life of supervised release.
- San Diego County Sheriff’s Department
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
*An indictment or complaint itself is not evidence that the defendants committed the crimes charged. The defendants are presumed innocent until the Government meets its burden in court of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
*For visuals from the press conference, see http://www.justice.gov/usao/cas/press.