It was judgment day for a Fairfax County man who admitted leading a teen sex trafficking ring for six years.
In federal court Friday, Justin Strom was sobbing. The 27-year-old was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
A leader of the Underground Gangster Crips, Strom had already pled guilty to recruiting at least eight teenage girls over the past six years, at Metro stations, high schools and over the Internet, and forcing them into lives of prostitution. Turning tricks in places like apartment communities in Ballston.
"Mr. Strom engaged in flattery, fraud, force and coercion, physical and sexual assault to recruit and maintain young girls in his child prostitution ring," says U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride.
Through tears, one of Strom's victims testified she "feels broken and worthless." She called Strom a "con artist, monster and manipulator." And she says she was "brainwashed into believing having sex with men for money was normal."
One victim's mother say Strom's "evil nature put our entire family though hell on earth."
Another victim's father said Strom and his "gang of thugs ... crushed the sanctity of my family and this community."
"One of the victims described in the court papers about how she got into this because she was from a modest home," added MacBride. "She didn't have a lot of money. And she wanted to make a little extra money to have nicer clothes, nicer lipstick, nicer school tools. She was hoping to be more popular in high school."
In front of the judge, Strom broke down and through sobs said, "I'm sorry for the things I've done. This is not the person I wanted to be. I deserve to be punished."
"You have individuals here who truly are monsters and that's how it was described in the court proceedings," says FBI Special Agent Scott Bean. "I think that's an apt description. These people are cowards who prey on children."
One of Strom's co-defendants was also sentenced Friday. He received ten years.
Others who pled guilty to charges related to the conspiracy are already serving prison sentences.