A city man and admitted MS-13 gang member faces felony charges in connection with a prostitution ring he allegedly ran with local, underage runaways.
Authorities arrested Alexander Rivas also known as Casper almost two weeks ago, following a months-long investigation sparked when a parent of one of the girls tipped police off early in November.
The Fairfax County parent flagged down a patrol officer with the Alexandria Police Department and reported the 14-year-old, seventh grade runaway was staying with Rivas, according to a court affidavit.
When authorities found and interviewed the unidentified middle school student, they learned she had first met Rivas during the summer of 2010. In a second interview, she told authorities Rivas had peddled her around Virginia, Washington and Maryland as a prostitute.
Rivas knew she was underage, according to court documents.
A second, 17-year-old girl interviewed by authorities remembered traveling to Woodbridge, Fairfax and Alexandria as one of Rivas prostitutes, as well as Maryland at least once. They went to apartments and occasionally hotels, according to court documents. Clients paid Rivas $50 and he split the profits, she told authorities. He carried a machete a calling card for Mara Salvatrucha 13 members and called it his wife, according to the affidavit.
On an average weekend night, his prostitutes serviced about 100 clients, according to court documents.
When authorities interviewed Rivas in January, he allegedly told them he was a member of the Virginia Locos of MS-13 and marketed his prostitution ring to illegal immigrants and construction workers.
Rivas, a United States citizen, now faces a charge of sex trafficking a child by force, fraud or coercion. He waived his preliminary hearing before a federal judge Tuesday afternoon.
Officials with Alexandrias police department declined to comment on the federal case or the prevalence of MS-13 in the city.
Still, Rivas isnt the only known member of the violent gang to surface in connection with prostitution in recent years. In 2009, two Alexandria residents linked with MS-13 were indicted for the murder of a Maryland man on Manor Road.
Between 2003 and 2008, roughly 10,208 gang-related crimes were committed in Northern Virginia, according to a report released by the Northern Virginia Comprehensive Gang Assessment in 2009.
MS-13 was the largest gang in the region during those years, with some 3,000 members spread across Virginias Washington suburbs.
Michael Mackey, gang prevention and intervention liaison with the citys gang prevention community task force, wont comment on any specific groups operating in Alexandria.
But the city offers an array of services to keep children and teens from falling in with gangs, he said.
Fortunately, the risk factors are lower and the protective factors are higher. We have lots of services and people watching to make sure kids are doing well, he said. If a teacher or mentor or parent notices the kid is having difficulty, we would provide some direct intervention with the family and try to help that kid get connected to something positive.
Since the task forces inception in 2005, theyve worked with regional organizations to mitigate the draw gangs might have on young people, he said.