A known gang member allegedly used threats and violence to force at least seven teenage girls to commit acts of prostitution across Southern California over the last year, police and prosecutors said Wednesday.
Reginald Washington, 18, of Los Angeles was charged with seven counts of human trafficking this month after he allegedly forced the girls to serve as prostitutes in Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pomona and parts of Orange County, law enforcement officials said.
Police became aware of Washington about eight months ago, according to Long Beach Det. Ed De La Torre, who said a teenage girl located during an unrelated operation told detectives she was working for him.
Over the next several months, police in Long Beach and Los Angeles found six additional girls ages 15 to 17 who also said Washington forced them to commit acts of prostitution, according to De La Torre.
Several of the girls said Washington used "threats and violence" to force them to work for him, De La Torre said.
Five of the girls were from Long Beach, and two were from Los Angeles, he said.
Los Angeles police arrested Washington in connection with an unrelated crime Jan. 14 and he was held in lieu of $300,000 bail, according to county jail records. An LAPD spokeswoman could not provide additional details about that arrest.
Washington, who goes by the street names "Baby Ticc" and "Lunatic," was also charged with committing the trafficking offenses at the behest of a street gang, according to court documents.
De La Torre confirmed that Washington is a documented gang member, but declined to comment further.
Long Beach police are actively searching for other victims, and asked anyone with additional information to contact the city's vice unit at (562) 570-7219.
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