WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

Filed Under:

Prostitution Ring Recruited Women At School, On Social Media

Play associated audio
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ykjc9/3435027358/

The leader of a Fairfax County gang accused of running a prostitution ring has been indicted by a grand jury. A federal grand jury has indicted 26-year-old Justin Strom of Lorton, also known as "J-Dirt", who is accused of running a sex trafficking operation.

Strom recruited girls at school, in the mall or on the Metro, according to Ronald Hosko, the FBI agent who took the lead on the case.

"The recruitment of several of these victims, sadly, was surprisingly easy," Hosko said. "It was a compliment on the victim's appearance. 'You're pretty.' And that opened the door to a bigger conversation and an invitation to make some money."

Unlike much of the gang activity in Northern Virginia, which is tied to gangs from El Salvador, Strom was the head of a gang known as the Underground Gangster Crips. Although Strom and other gang members were African-American, many of the victims in the case are white and were recruited from Hispanic neighborhoods. 

"They had one girl who has a 3.9 GPA," Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said after the indictment. "Her parents are what most people would call very well-to-do in a good high school in Fairfax, recruited though a partner of the gang, in the school."

Records from the Fairfax County school system show that Strom and two other suspects in the prostitution ring attended Robert E. Lee High School in Springfield. The case has shocked the community, according to Abe Jeffers, the school's principal.

"This isn't something you would expect to be happening anywhere, that in this day and age people would be imprisoning high school students and forcing them to do things against their will," Jeffers said. 

After the gang members made personal contact with the girls, court records show, they would use social media to draw them into a life of prostitution. 

"The challenge of social media sites is that it opens the door and the window right into people's houses, and so it makes it a challenge for parents to police it and to be aware of it because it's coming right into your house through the fiber or through the cable," Hosko said.

Strom faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, Aug. 4, 2015

You can see two exhibits and rub elbows with the artists behind the work.
WAMU 88.5

The Surprising Roots of Barbecue

We speak with culinary historian Michael Twitty about the roots of familiar southern dishes in African and Native American food traditions.

WAMU 88.5

President Obama's Iran Speech

Veteran journalist Marvin Kalb joins us to discuss the parallels between JFK's nuclear disarmament speech fifty years ago and President Obama's speech on the nuclear deal with Iran.

NPR

Sexist Reactions To An Ad Spark #ILookLikeAnEngineer Campaign

After being surprised by online responses to her appearance in a recruiting ad, engineer Isis Wenger wanted to see if anyone else felt like they didn't fit a "cookie-cutter mold."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.