Teenager who ran Canadian prostitution ring jailed

OTTAWA (AFP) - A teenage girl was jailed for six-and-a-half years on Tuesday for drugging and beating girls as young as 13 into prostitution in Canada's capital Ottawa after luring them through social media.

The 18-year-old ring leader was only 15 when she was arrested along with two other girls in 2012.

She had faced a maximum sentence of three years under Canadian law for youths, but prosecutors took the rare step of asking that she be sentenced as an adult, which carries a much higher penalty.

One of her accomplices was previously sentenced to three years in prison while the other is still awaiting sentencing.

Acting on their own without adult guidance, the girls used social media to lure victims to a suburban Ottawa home where they would be encouraged or forced to take drugs, and then delivered up to adult clients.

If they refused, they were threatened with violence and blackmail.

One victim was forced kicking and screaming into a man's car at a gas station. She escaped but was quickly caught and dragged back. Another's clothes were ripped off in the basement of a house and she was photographed naked.

The youngest victim's mother dropped off her daughter at the home of one of the accused for a sleepover. The girl returned home distraught the next day, wearing makeup, heels and a trenchcoat that didn't belong to her.

The court heard that one of the accused would send photographs of a new recruit to prospective men from her cellphone, and if they agreed, she would send the girl by taxi to the man's home to sell sex.

Police eventually broke up the prostitution ring in June 2012 after one of the victims complained to her mother, who informed authorities.