RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — Several Los Angeles-area gang members are among eight people who have been indicted on sex trafficking charges for allegedly prostituting teen girls, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.
On Aug. 1, a grand jury returned an 18-count indictment that accuses seven of the defendants of “conspiring to engage in the sex trafficking of seven teen-age girls, six of whom were under the age of 18,” Thom Mrozek of the DOJ said.
The indictment alleges that “the defendants preyed on vulnerable victims, convinced them to become prostitutes, and verbally and physically abused them when they did not perform as required,” he said.
Paul Bell, Christopher Weldon, Javiya Brooks, Kimberly Alberti, Kristy Harrell and Su Yan were arrested Thursday morning by the Inland Child Exploitation/Prostitution Task Force, the DOJ said.
They will be arraigned Thursday afternoon.
Brothers Samuel Rodgers and Gary Rodgers, who were already in police custody, will be arraigned on Aug. 29.
The Rodgers brothers, Bell, and Weldon are all reported members of the Rolling 60s street gang.
The investigation into the sex trafficking ring began in January 2011 when the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department learned that teen girls attending Inland Empire schools were being recruited to work as prostitutes, officials said.
According to the indictment, Brooks, Alberti, and Harrell enlisted girls by gaining their trust and telling them they could earn large amounts of money by working as prostitutes.
“The girls who were successfully recruited to work as prostitutes were brought to the Los Angeles area, where they were housed at hotels or at the pimps’ apartments,” Mrozek said.
Prosecutors say the girls were beaten, raped and held captive by Bell and the Rodgers brothers, who acted as pimps.
They are asking that all suspects be held without bail.