lleged gang members from California, Arizona and Texas were recently indicted for manipulating approximately 100 girls, ranging in age from 12 to mid-20s, into a life of prostitution. The case is the third prosecuted under the federal RICO racketeering statute usually reserved for organized crime, and also the third in San Diego County.
Believed to operate under the moniker “Tycoons,” the sex-trafficking gang recruited at middle and high schools, according to the indictment, which identified twenty-two alleged offenders.
Tycoon members are described as coming together from a myriad of other area gangs for the purpose of boosting somewhat easily obtainable income. Records indicate the absence of inventory and ease of replacing workers contributes to prostitution’s appeal as a criminal enterprise.
Tactics used to coerce recruits included, “false promises of a luxurious lifestyle, intimidation, and actual or threatened violence.” The young girls and women were also influenced through drugs and alcohol provided by their alleged pimps. The substances were indicated as contributing to the girls’ decreased inhibitions and increased productivity.
San Diego County girls were transported to Texas, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada and elsewhere for prostitution work, the indictment detailed.
Court documents reveal additional criminal actions that Tycoon members are accused of engaging in including, “attempted murder, assaults, drug trafficking, robberies, residential and commercial burglaries, and beatings, intimidation and threats of violence against female victims, witnesses in criminal cases and members of the community.”
Defendants are being charged under the Federal RICO statute due to the increased sophistication of their operations. Members are accused of conspiring together to commit crime for the purpose of making money. This sophistication likens the gang’s operations to those of organized crime syndicates, and exposes them to prosecution under the statute that has usually been reserved for organized crime.
“This investigation pulls back the curtain on a growing threat involving sexual exploitation occurring in plain sight,” said Joe Garcia, interim special agent in charge for San Diego’s branch of Homeland Security Investigations.
Observations of teachers and the diligence of parents were crucial in cracking down on this theft of innocence authorities conveyed.
“Victims of sex trafficking are young, just getting started in life,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “They have hopes and dreams of being loved and having beautiful lives ahead of them. Gang members are exploiting these dreams and stealing the souls of children.”
This indictment marks a trend, as this is the third case prosecuted through the U.S. Attorney’s Office under RICO for large numbers of gang members involved with drugs, human trafficking and violence. Two other cases noted in a U.S. Attorney’s Office release were also located in San Diego County.
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