OCEANSIDE, Calif. (CN) — Federal prosecutors seized the Oceanside Travelodge hotel in unsealing a criminal RICO complaint accusing 38 people and an LLC of prostituting minors and adults, drug trafficking and gang crimes.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said that since 2005, Oceanside Crips gangs "engaged in multiple racketeering acts in furtherance of the Enterprise, including, among other things, the sex trafficking of minors and adults; attempted murder; kidnapping; extortion; and the distribution of controlled substances."
Oceanside, a seaside city of 173,000, is the largest city in Northern San Diego County.
In a statement announcing the results of their 18-month investigation, prosecutors said the leaders of the gang "controlled and directed the activities of more junior members, even from prison."
Prosecutors added: "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, but not limited to, physical abuse and/or public humiliation."
The gang concentrated on recruiting and prostituting young, vulnerable girls who ran away from home, providing them with drugs and alcohol, and sometimes selling or trading them to other pimps, prosecutors said.
Of the 38 individual defendants, 34 are in their 20s. Three are in their 30s; one, listed as an "enterprise facilitator," is 60.
If convicted, the defendants face p to 20 years in prison and $250,000 fines.
"The indictment also alleges the criminal forfeiture of the Oceanside Travelodge hotel," according to a statement from the U.S. attorney.
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