Prostitutes in oceanside hotels
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OCEANSIDE — A federal indictment unsealed Monday charges 38 people, including Oceanside gang members and the owners of a motel there, with racketeering charges related to a sophisticated prostitution operation involving underage girls and adults.
Attorney Laura Duffy said 30 girls, many of them runaways, have been "rescued" as a result of the month investigation, called "Operation Vice Grip. About law enforcement officers, led by the FBI and other federal agents, fanned out over North County and other parts of the country over the weekend, culminating in the arrest of 29 of the 38 people under indictment.
Included in those are dozens of Oceanside Crips gang members who belong to three separate gangs but were working largely together, Duffy said. The operation also targeted the owners of an Oceanside TraveLodge.
They are suspected of helping a criminal enterprise by allowing gang members to rent rooms at inflated prices, while using other people's identification, and then pocketing the cash without telling the TraveLodge corporation. Hitesh Patel and his father Vinod Patel, acting on behalf of Gayatri Investments, LLC, would rent room in less visible parts of the hotel to avoid detection by police, officials said.
Duffy said the process has been set in motion for the government to eventually take over the motel should the Patels be found guilty. A woman who answered the phone at the motel Monday said the family had no comment.
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During a news conference Monday, officials said the gang used social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, to recruit vulnerable girls locally and in other parts of the country. The indictment says gang-controlled prostitution spawned a "pimping" subculture, known as "The Game," which operates under a set of strictly observed rules, with consequences for individuals who violate them — including physical abuse and public humiliation.
Twenty-five of those arrested were apprehended in the county, the others were arrested in Riverside, Las Vegas, Sacramento and in Texas. All are those indicted are U. Almost all are young — in their 20s.
The youngest is 18, the oldest, Vinod Patel, is The maximum penalties for those charged is 20 years' incarceration, although many will face less time if convicted depending on their criminal history, said Assistant U. Attorney Rees Morgan.
The Crips are a largely African American street gang founded in Los Angeles inwith an estimated membership of between 30, to 35, nationwide.
Crips were first documented in Oceanside in Three separate Crips groups operate in Oceanside, according to the indictment. Gang members would target girls for prostitution, then would give them drugs and alcohol.
Once the girls became dependent on the pimp, gang members sometimes sold, traded or "gifted" them to other pimps, the indictment alleges. Although much of the prostitution happened at the TraveLodge, several other hotels in Oceanside, Vista and elsewhere were also used, the indictment says.
Our goal is to not only prevent the spreading of this modern day form of slavery, but to wipe it out in every form.