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Thursday, 26 March 2009

Westside Street Mobb charged with running a prostitution ring involving at least 13 girls and young women

Six alleged members of a West Seattle-based street gang have been charged with running a prostitution ring involving at least 13 girls and young women. In court documents, Seattle police assert that members of the Bloods-affiliated Westside Street Mobb used violence and coercion to force the women to prostitute themselves. Nearly all of the prostitutes' earnings went to gang members.Among those charged is DeShawn Cashmoney Clark, an 18-year-old Seattle man who pleaded guilty last month to similar charges in a separate case. Clark now faces the most serious charges made in the recent filing: second-degree human trafficking and promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor.According to court documents, Seattle Vice Unit Detective Todd Novisedlak launched in investigation into the prostitution ring in November after conducting a sting on a 19-year-old woman selling herself on Craigslist.org.
Following her arrest at a Hilton hotel in SeaTac, the woman told police that she'd been working for Clark and Thomas Foster, according to police statements. She told police Clark had assaulted her in the past, and that she was afraid her pimp would hunt her down."She feared that she would lose her life if she cooperated with the police," Novisedlak said in court documents. "She said she desperately wanted out of the prostitution 'lifestyle.'"The woman told police Clark and his brother, Shawn Clark, had taken her and two other prostitutes to Portland, where they stayed for six days. She went on to identify 13 other girls and women who were working for the organization.At the same time, King County Sheriff's Office Detective Todd Smith was conducting a separate investigation into the Westside Street Mobb. Smith, according to court documents, had identified three women working for Shawn Clark and Gerald Nathaniel Jackson who were living together in a basement apartment in unincorporated King County near Des Moines. In collaboration with detectives in both agencies, Novisdlak and Smith found that two other men, Mycah Maurice Johnson and Desmond Trevian Manago, were also involved in the prostitution ring, according to police statements. All the men are believed by law enforcement to be affiliated with the Westside Street Mobb. According to court documents, the gang is thought to have been formed in mid-2006 in Seattle's Delridge neighborhood. Sheriff's Office detectives believe the group has 20 to 30 members, and is in part funded through prostitution and drug sales. The gang was initially affiliated with both the Bloods and the Chicago-based Folk Nation alliance of street gangs. Police assert that the Westside Street Mobb has since broken with Folk Nation after entering into a turf fight with another South Seattle gang. Prosecutors have filed a total of 15 charges against the six men, who, aside from DeShawn Clark, face two to three years in prison if convicted as charged. Clark faces a significantly longer sentence.
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