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“You’re Pretty—You Could Make Some Money”

(Washingtonian) by Marisa M. Kashino – In the affluent Northern Virginia suburbs, a shocking problem has taken root: Police and federal agents have taken down dozens of juvenile sex traffickers in the last two years alone. Here’s how one gang recruited teenagers through Facebook, at Metro stations and shopping malls—even in the halls of Fairfax County public schools.

If only Katie hadn’t responded to the Facebook message. That’s how her ordeal began in the summer of 2011—with a vague enticement from an unfamiliar name, Rain Smith.

“You’re pretty. You could make some money.” Those empty words had lured her into a stranger’s car.

It hadn’t been clear how she’d make money, and now Katie knew there was no “Rain Smith.” There was only the man in front of her—Justin Strom, a member of the Underground Gangster Crips gang in Fairfax County and the leader of a sex-trafficking operation.

Strom said he wanted to put her to work as a prostitute. Katie told him she was only 17 and not interested. He tried a different tactic, taking out a stash of cocaine and offering her some. She said she didn’t do that, somehow mustering the courage to slap his hand away.

She watched as the white powder dusted Strom’s lap. Then she felt her head slam into the car window…read full article

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