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Feds arrest eight people for allegedly prostituting underage girls

 Eight members of a ring that allegedly recruited underage girls from Inland Empire schools, groomed them, and forced them into prostitution have been indicted on federal sex-trafficking charges, authorities announced Thursday.

The defendants included four members of the Rolling 60s Crips gang and three women who also worked as "lead prostitutes," authorities said. Six suspects were arrested Thursday morning and two were already in state custody, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles.

According to investigators, one of the “lead prostitutes,” 19-year-old Kimberly Alberti of Riverside, recruited minor girls at the school she was attending, telling them they could earn large sums of money by working for her pimp. Girls lured from Inland Empire schools were brought to the Los Angeles area, where they were housed at pimps’ homes or at motels, authorities said.

The suspects allegedly beat the girls, raped them and kept them locked up to coerce them into complying, according to prosecutors. Authorities said seven teenage girls, six of whom were underage, were forced into prostitution.

“The sex trafficking of women and juveniles is a heinous and disturbing crime,” U.S. Atty. André Birotte Jr. said in a statement. “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.”

Indicted were: Paul Edward Bell, 27, of Lynwood; Samuel Rogers, 22, and Gary Rogers, 23, of Moreno Valley; Christopher Weldon, 22, of Compton; Javiya Brooks, 19, of Lynwood; Kristy Harrell, 20, of Riverside; Su Yan, 30, of Rosemead; and Alberti.

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-- Victoria Kim

 
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