24 Indicted In Massive San Diego Sex-Trafficking Case
Federal indictments unsealed Wednesday charge 24 alleged gang members from North Park in a sex-trafficking conspiracy.
U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy says 17 of the suspects were arrested early Wednesday in San Diego, Arizona and New Jersey; four others were already in custody on other charges. The alleged crimes took place in 46 cities across 23 states, Duffy said.
"There's really no question that the kind of sex trafficking that we're talking about in this case is nothing short of modern-day slavery," Duffy said. "Unfortunately, this is something that we're beginning to see more and more with gangs: moving away from some of the traditional gang behavior, into this type of business model."
The federal grand jury indictment was the result of a long-term investigation by San Diego police, the FBI and other agencies, the U.S. attorney's office said.
Racketeering charges involve the trafficking of underage girls and women, kidnapping, murder and drug crimes, according to the government. Of the 60 victims, Duffy said, 11 were minors.
"They branded these girls and women like property, and that branding included tattooing these girls and women with things like their own names, their gang monickers, their gang names and even bar codes," Duffy said.
It's the second time the racketeering statute -- normally reserved for crimes involving mob syndicates -- has been used here recently following a gang sweep. Duffy said the first involved the indictment of 39 Oceanside gang members, 34 of whom have pleaded guilty.