LOS ANGELES – The case of an alleged pimp suspected of abducting two teenage girls and keeping them captive while forcing them into prostitution could include dozens of other victims, authorities said Monday.
Police urged other possible victims of suspect Leroy Bragg to come forward.
Bragg, 34, was arrested Sept. 28 and charged with trafficking a minor, solicitation and other crimes in the alleged abduction of a 13-year-old girl.
He also is suspected of kidnapping a 14-year-old girl, though charges have not been filed in that case.
"We believe that Mr. Bragg had encounters with many of our young women in Los Angeles," police Capt. Ann Young said. "This is such a hideous crime. These young women ... are babies, basically."
Bragg has pleaded not guilty and remained jailed on $1.3 million bail. He had not yet been assigned a public defender. With previous burglary convictions, he could be sentenced to life under the three strikes law if convicted of the latest charges.
Police found the two girls while checking hotels southwest of downtown Los Angeles to see if managers had been properly documenting guests to make sure no one was renting rooms by the hour for use by prostitutes.
The girls told officers Bragg had kidnapped them, Young said.
"They are not street-wise," she said. "They may think they are when they leave home, but when they run into someone like Mr. Bragg, it changes their whole paradigm."
Bragg is suspected of keeping the girls captive, though officials did not give details. The father of one of the girls has said she was locked in a room for three or four days and given drugs.
The father also said his daughter had been forced to get a tattoo identifying her as Bragg's property under his alias, Snipe King.
One girl was returned to her family, the other was placed in foster care.
Pimps often tattoo girls with their name or a symbol as a way of asserting control, police Cmdr. Michael Moriarty said.
They frequently use the Internet to search for potential victims. Often, they reach out on social networking sites and make elaborate promises.
"They say come out with me, I can provide you with clothing, nice places," Moriarty said. "He will have other prostitutes that work with him that will help the recruitment process by saying what a great guy he is."