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Fairfax Gang Prostitution Case Raising Awareness Statewide

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Details of an alleged teen prostitution ring in Northern Virginia are surfacing following the recent arrests of members of the Crips gang in Northern Virginia. Some of the girls involved were from very affluent families, and their parents had no idea about their daughter's involvement, according to authorities.

Although two suspected gang members pleaded guilty of running a prostitution ring in Fairfax County earliert his month, the case is not isolated. Criminal gangs across the state may be targeting or have already recruited other children without their parents' knowledge, law enforcement officials add.

Many variables make it hard to know whether a child is involved in a gang. In these cases where the victims were beaten, threatened, and prostituted, the parents knew nothing. 

Violent gangs have turned to human trafficking as more lucrative and less risky than selling drugs, says Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. They do target runaways, but it's common for them to recruit girls through school, social networking sites, or the mall. 

The recent Northern Virginia case sheds light on the issue, but Cuccinelli says it's naive to think it's confined there.

"The gang unit in Fairfax would tell you they take seriously the potential for threat in every single school they've got -- for recruitment and activity," Cuccinelli says. "And if Fairfax is the platinum standard, then I don't know why anybody else should ever get comfortable wherever else they are in Virginia." 

The nature of gang threats in different parts of the state may be different, but they exist everywhere, the attorney general adds.

Experts say parents need to be more aware of their teens' Internet habits, friends, and daily activities and to gauge their young daughters' self-esteem level. Gangs target young women who feel left out of social groups and ignored by family members.

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