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Prostitution ring controlled from prison was 'modern-day slavery,' prosecutor says

April 19, 2011 |  7:00 am


Federal, state and Oceanside-area officials say they have broken up a highly sophisticated prostitution ring that was run from prison and preyed on teenage runaways and those from broken homes.

The prostitution ring is "a form of modern-day slavery to which every available law enforcement resource will be applied," said U.S. Atty. Laura Duffy.

In all, 38 people were charged, the result of an 18-month undercover investigation called Operation Vice Grip, Duffy said.

The ring was organized by a street gang known as the Oceanside Crips and, since 2005, has used a Travelodge motel in Oceanside for purposes of prostitution, officials said. The ring was controlled from prison cells by gang members incarcerated on other charges.

Among those indicted were the owners and operators of the Travelodge, Vinod Patel, 60, and Hitesh Patel, 27. The motel is being seized by authorities.

Other low-cost motels in northern San Diego County were also used, officials said. Pimps "focused on vulnerable juvenile females who were runaways or from broken homes," according to the indictment.

Social-networking websites including MySpace, Facebook and Twitter were used to lure girls into prostitution, officials said. The girls were then provided alcohol and drugs "to manipulate their loyalty and increase productivity," according to the indictment.


38 indicted in prostitution ring in northern San Diego County

-- Tony Perry in San Diego