April 20, 2011

US Feds Charges 38 Gang Members In San Diego Oceanside Area With Running Prostitution Ring Using Girls And Young Women!

The Canadian Press
written by Elliot Spagat, The Associated Press
Tuesday April 19, 2011

SAN DIEGO — A motel owner is among 38 people charged with helping to run a child and adult prostitution ring for a gang based in suburban San Diego, authorities said Monday.

A federal grand jury indictment alleges that the Oceanside Crips had girls and women prostitute themselves at low-cost motels in north San Diego County.

About 30 girls were rescued "from this nightmare that they've been living," said Michael Carney, acting special agent in charge of investigations for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Diego.

The prostitutes ranged in age from 13 years old to young adults, said ICE spokeswoman Lauren Mack.

If convicted of racketeering conspiracy, each defendant faces up to 20 years in prison.

U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said gang members solicited prostitutes on the Internet in "a form of modern-day slavery."

The FBI said 29 of the 38 people charges have been arrested in the 18-month investigation, including Vinod Patel, 60, owner of the Oceanside Travelodge motel, and his son, Hitesh Patel, 27.

The indictment, dated Friday, initiated criminal forfeiture proceedings against the hotel, which remained open Monday. A woman who answered the phone and declined to give her name said the Patels were unavailable to comment. A phone message left with Travelodge corporate offices was not immediately returned.

The indictment alleges crimes related to prostitution going back to 2006. Two defendants allegedly received between $1,000 a $3,000 a day from one prostitute's payments in 2007 and 2008. Another defendant is accused of prostituting a 15-year-old girl at the Travelodge hotel in 2008.

The indictment says prostitution occurred at other motels but Duffy said Travelodge was "the most egregious example" and it is the only one charged. The prosecutor said the Patels charged higher room rates to the Crips and gave them rooms in "discreet" location to avoid raising suspicions.

"The Patels were targeted in this case because they not only knowingly assisted the Crips use the facility to conduct prostitution and other gang activities, but they personally profited from it," Duffy said at a news conference.

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