News and Press Releases

Springfield Gang Associate Sentenced to 120 Months for Role in Sex Trafficking High School Girls

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 17, 2012

               ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Christopher Sylvia, 23, of Springfield, Va., was sentenced today to 120 months in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release, for his role as a bodyguard and driver for a gang-led prostitution business that recruited and trafficked high school girls.

               Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II, Attorney General of Virginia, Colonel David Rohrer, Fairfax County Chief of Police, and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee.

“Predators involved in the sex trafficking of juveniles should receive severe sentences,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride.   “Sylvia worked with others to steal the adolescent years of these high school girls and now he will pay the price.”

“Christopher Sylvia and others profited from the exploitation and intimidation of vulnerable juveniles,” said Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin.  “Today’s sentence is yet another example that those who commit such appalling crimes will be pursued and punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

"Human traffickers are some of the most dangerous criminals we deal with," said Attorney General Cuccinelli.  "It is our hope that today's sentencing will send a clear message that participating in human trafficking at any level will not be tolerated in Virginia."

               On April 12, 2012, Sylvia pled guilty to sex trafficking of a juvenile.  According to court records, Sylvia was an associate of the Underground Gangster Crips (UGC), a Crips “set” based in Fairfax County, Va. As part of his involvement with UGC, Sylvia served as a bodyguard and driver in the UGC prostitution enterprise and walked with prostitutes for protection on multiple occasions.  In late 2011 and early 2012, Sylvia transported three 17-year-old girls to engage in commercial sex acts.

Sylvia is the third of five UGC members or associates who have been convicted of sex trafficking of juveniles in connection with this case.  Michael Tavon Jefferies, aka “Loc,” was sentenced on July 6, 2012 to 120 months in prison for his role in the enterprise.  Donyel Dove, aka “Bleek,” was sentenced on August 10, 2012 to 276 months in prison for his role in the prostitution enterprise and on other charges.  The two remaining defendants (Henock Ghile and Justin Strom) are scheduled for sentencing on September 7, and September 14, 2012, respectively.

               This case was investigated by the Fairfax County Police Department and the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with assistance from the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force. Virginia Assistant Attorney General and Special Assistant United States Attorney Marc J. Birnbaum and Assistant United States Attorney Inayat Delawala are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

Founded in 2004, the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force is a collaboration of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies – along with nongovernmental organizations – dedicated to combating human trafficking and related crimes.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pcl.uscourts.gov.

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