Bryan Cohen May. 10, 2013, 6:40pm
WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced Wednesday that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has recognized one of his assistant attorneys general for his role in breaking up a sex trafficking ring.
Marc Birnbaum, Virginia assistant attorney general and special assistant U.S. attorney, broke up a Northern Virginia child sex trafficking ring in March 2012 by prosecuting five Fairfax County gang members who had forced local high school girls into prostitution.
The NCMEC honored Birnbaum, the Fairfax County Police Department, the Washington FBI field office and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia for their contributions to the case.
"I'm proud of the work Marc has done," Cuccinelli said in a statement. "It's very gratifying to see a member of our team recognized for his outstanding work and his dedication to fighting this tragic crime.
"We are dedicated to stopping the scourge of human trafficking in Virginia, from toughening our laws; to training law enforcement how to spot it and attorneys how to prosecute it; to working with federal, state and local law enforcement partners to bust the traffickers. We couldn't be as effective without such strong partnerships among agencies. The stepped-up efforts are working, but there is plenty more to do."
Birnbaum was previously recognized in October as the Gang Prosecutor of the Year by the Virginia Gang Investigators Association.
Birnbaum's case centered around five gang members of the Fairfax-based Underground Gangster Crips, who recruited high school girls to join a prostitution ring and threatened them with violence if they tried to leave. The gang members were convicted and sentenced to between 10 and 40 years in prison.
"This case was every parent's worst nightmare," Cuccinelli said. "Human trafficking can happen anywhere, and it is a very real danger here in Virginia. I'm grateful we've got good people like Marc working to protect some of Virginia's most vulnerable citizens."