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Apr 19, 2011 at 12:20pm IST

Two Indians charged in US prostitution racket

Boston: An Indian father-son duo is among over 30 people indicted by federal authorities on charges of running a large-scale prostitution racket in California.

Vinod Patel, 60 and his 27-year old son Hitesh Patel owned and operated a motel in San Diego that was used as a brothel.

Federal prosecutors said the father and son managed prostitution activities in rooms away from legitimate customers and also warned pimps and others about police inquiries.

Two Indians charged in US prostitution racket

Vinod Patel and Hitesh Patel owned and operated a motel in San Diego that was used as a brothel.

Authorities have charged 36 others, mostly members of a street gang, with racketeering and sex trafficking of minors and adults, kidnapping, extortion and distribution of controlled substances.

The prostitution ring involved adult women and underage girls and was managed by a street gang known as the Oceanside Crips that had used the Patels' motel since 2005 for prostitution.

The motel has been seized by authorities.

The indictment alleges that incarcerated senior members of the Oceanside Crips controlled the ring from jail and directed junior gang members.

"The indictment unsealed today targets a growing problem in San Diego County and across the country - street gangs like the Crips expanding traditional gang activities to include prostitution," US Attorney Laura Duffy said.

About 30 underage girls, all US citizens and some runaways, were rescued by the authorities.

The charges were the result of an 18-month undercover investigation called Operation Vice Grip.

Pimps "focused on vulnerable juvenile females who were runaways or from broken homes," according to the indictment.

Social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter were used to lure girls into prostitution.

The girls were then given alcohol and drugs "to manipulate their loyalty and increase productivity".

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