2 more Crips members to plead in sex-trafficking case

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Crime,Emily Babay
Two more gang members are expected to plead guilty to prostituting Fairfax County high school students, leaving just one defendant who has not reached a plea deal in the case.

Court filings this week show plea agreement hearings have been set for 23-year-old Henock Ghile and 27-year-old Donyel Dove. Ghile's hearing is scheduled for Monday in federal court in Alexandria, and Dove's is scheduled for next Thursday.

The two were among five people associated with the Underground Gangster Crips, a Fairfax County-based division of the Crips gang, arrested in March on sex-trafficking charges for allegedly recruiting teenage girls to work as prostitutes.

Court documents say the Crips members targeted high school students online, at school and on the streets, and intimidated them with threats and violence if they tried to quit the prostitution business.

Ghile is accused of working as a driver in the operation; Dove was allegedly a bodyguard.

Another driver and another bodyguard pleaded guilty last month. Justin Strom, the 26-year-old alleged leader of the operation, is the only gang member arrested who has not agreed to a plea deal.

Lana Manitta, an attorney for Dove, said it would be premature to comment before the hearing. A lawyer for Ghile could not be reached for comment, but a document filed Tuesday says he has "reached a pre-indictment disposition" with prosecutors.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia confirmed that hearings had been scheduled but declined to comment further.

Court records allege that the Crips' operation had been victimizing Fairfax teenagers since at least April 2009. Documents list 10 girls who were lured into the prostitution ring, but authorities have said they believe there were many others.

Local law enforcement officials have called child sex-trafficking a growing threat in the D.C. region, saying gangs have increasingly gotten into the business, and Internet sites have made it easier to recruit and sell girls.

Other gangs in the area have also been involved in sex-trafficking. Several MS-13 members have been charged with prostituting runaway girls, and a member of a local SUR-13 clique admitted last month to sleeping with and pimping out a girl who had run away from home.

ebabay@washingtonexaminer.com

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