A 27-year-old Georgia man, described by federal prosecutors as the ringleader of a sex business that prostituted juvenile girls in Virginia, Maryland and four Southeastern states, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Alexandria to engaging in a child exploitation enterprise.
Edwin "Boo" Barcus Jr. faces a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison when he is sentenced June 7 by U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee.
U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride said Barcus made his living "exploiting vulnerable young girls and luring them into prostitution."
"Barcus saw these girls as his property -- even making them get tattoos with his nickname," Mr. MacBride said. "Thanks to the FBI, Fairfax County Police Department and the members of our Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force, his operation is shut down and can no longer victimize these girls."
According to a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Barcus led a commercial sex organization starting in 2007 that prostituted at least 23 women, including four who were 16 and at least three who were 17 when Barcus began prostituting them.
He targeted juveniles who had run away from home or lived in a broken home, sometimes making them believe that he or other members of the organization were romantically interested in them.
Barcus also stated that he purchased clothing and shoes for girls he wanted to recruit as a means of luring them into the venture. He also admitted that he used Backpage.com and other erotic sites to advertise the girls' services and to recruit girls to work for his organization. When the girls found it difficult to repeatedly have sex with strange men, Barcus and others provided them with alcohol and narcotics to make them more vulnerable and susceptible.
Mr. MacBride said Barcus and other conspirators carried and, when necessary, brandished firearms while engaging in prostitution-related activities, and Barcus battered at least three of the girls working for his enterprise.
In November, court documents show, Barcus was prostituting at least one juvenile in Herndon while another member of his organization was prostituting other girls in Atlanta.
Because the venture was yielding substantial profits in Herndon, Barcus instructed the conspirator to bring two 17-year-olds to Herndon. When one of the girls objected, she was told that "under the rules of the game" she had to go to Virginia.
Barcus admitted that each girl servicing clients in Herndon could obtain $500 or more per day. All of the money was turned over to Barcus or other members of the enterprise.
In addition to Maryland and Virginia, he operated in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
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