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Federal prosecutors on Tuesday accused nine people of pimping three teenagers throughout North County.
In interviews with the North County Times, authorities said some of the accused are documented members of four Oceanside gangs with warring histories, but the group collaborated in pimping the teenagers.
The case highlights a growing belief among law enforcement that gangs are benefiting from the region’s prostitution activities. In 2008, county prosecutors started adding a gang allegation charge to some pimping cases, which raises the potential penalties. I wrote about this new local tactic last week.
In the newly unsealed federal case, prosecutors won’t need to make an argument that pimping is related to Oceanside’s gangs. There’s no gang charge available to federal prosecutors like the California law that county prosecutors are using.
All nine have been charged with conspiracy to violate sex trafficking of children through force, fraud and coercion. The maximum prison sentence is life and the minimum is five years.
The North County Times reported a good summary of Tuesday’s announcement from federal prosecutors, but there’s one update. The article said 10 people were indicted by federal prosecutors. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alessandra P. Serano told me this morning that charges have been dismissed against one of the accused, Lamont Montel Grove.
Serano said Grove was a minor when the incidents took place, making him ineligible to be prosecuted on sex trafficking charges under federal law. Serano said she will recommend the San Diego District Attorney’s Office prosecute criminal charges in juvenile court.
— KEEGAN KYLE