Thursday, January 16, 2014

Child Trafficking: Los Angeles: Gang member pleads guilty to sex trafficking of minors by force

U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of California

RIVERSIDE, CA—On the day a jury was expected to hear opening statements in his trial, a Lynwood gang member pleaded guilty on Tuesday to federal sex trafficking charges, admitting that he used force, fraud, and coercion to recruit teen-age girls who worked as prostitutes across Southern California.

Paul Edward Bell, 29, an alleged member of the Rolling 60s Crips street gang, pleaded guilty on Monday pursuant to a plea agreement that calls for a sentence of 30 years in federal prison.

Bell, who used multiple monikers, including J-Roc, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips, who is scheduled to determine whether to accept the 30 year binding plea agreement and sentence the defendant to that term of imprisonment on March 31, 2014.

Bell is the eighth and final defendant convicted after a federal grand jury returned an indictment in August 2012 that resulted from an investigation by the Inland Child Exploitation/Prostitution Task Force, which is comprised of agents, deputies and officers with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, the Riverside Police Department, the San Bernardino Police Department, the Pomona Police Department, and the Ontario Police Department.

In court documents previously filed in this case, prosecutors said that Bell and his co-defendants used minors as prostitutes for their own financial gain. They preyed on vulnerable victims, convinced them to become prostitutes, and verbally and physically abused them when they did not perform as required, according to various court documents.

In a plea agreement filed yesterday, Bell specifically admitted that in 2011 he recruited and harbored four minor victims (ages 15 to 17) that he forced to work as prostitutes in Lynwood and Compton. Bell admitted physically abusing one victim “for not performing as a prostitute and for acting up,” according to the plea agreement.

“Sex trafficking is an abominable crime that condemns its victims to physical and psychological trauma, hardship and abuse,” said United States Attorney AndrĂ© Birotte Jr. "Mr. Bell and his cohorts coldly and brutally victimized young women and juveniles, subjecting them to treatment that can only be described as inhumane. Bell exploited his victims for profit and now he will be held accountable and punished for his predatory conduct."

“The defendants in this case lured minor victims from school with false promises of a glamorous lifestyle only to sexually exploit and abuse them in furtherance of the gang, and for their own financial gain,” said Bill Lewis, the Assistant Director of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and today’s announcement should send a message to those with similar intentions of targeting minors that the FBI and our task force partners are committed to investigating allegations of sex trafficking and sending them to prison.”

The other defendants in this case who previously pleaded guilty are:
  • Samuel Rogers, also known as Bone, 23, of Moreno Valley, another alleged member of the Rolling 60s, who pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a minor;
  • Gary Rogers, who used monikers such as G-Man, 25, of Moreno Valley, another alleged member of the street gang and Samuel Rogers’ brother, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking;
  • Christopher Weldon, who is also known by several names, including C-Roc, 24, of Compton, the fourth alleged Rolling 60s member named in the indictment and Bell’s half-brother, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking and received a six-year prison sentence;
  • Javiya Brooks, who is also known as Shady Blue, 21, of Lynwood, who was the lead prostitute for Bell, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking;
  • Kimberly Alberti, 20, of Riverside, who was the lead prostitute for Samuel Rogers, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking;
  • Kristy Harrell, 21, of Riverside, who was Gary Rogers’ lead prostitute, who pleaded guilty to interstate transportation in the aid of racketeering; and
  • Su Yan, 31, of Rosemead, a Chinese national who assisted Bell with his prostitution business and pleaded guilty to interstate transportation in the aid of racketeering.
The defendants who have not been sentenced will also be sentenced later this year by Judge Phillips.
The investigation in this case began in January of 2011, when the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department learned that teenage girls attending schools in the Inland Empire were being recruited to work as prostitutes. The investigation later revealed that Alberti attended one of the schools and recruited underage females by “grooming them”—or gaining their trust and telling them that they could make large sums of money by working as prostitutes for Alberti’s pimp. The girls who were successfully recruited to work as prostitutes were brought to the Los Angeles area, where they were housed by Bell and the Rogers brothers at hotels on and near Long Beach Boulevard or at Bell’s apartment.

The United States Attorney’s Office worked with the Justice Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section to prosecute this case.