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Las Vegas man in prison for forcing young women into prostitution

Katie Crowther

Las Vegas man in prison for forcing young women into prostitution

By Katie Crowther. CREATED Feb 7, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Officers with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation say they've caught a violent criminal who was turning young girls into prostitutes

Under the 'Innocence Lost' initiative, local police officers work with the FBI to uncover sex crimes, and help the people victimized by them.

In this case, detectives were able to get four young women out of Steven Rankin's control.

Police say Rankin met one of his 15-year-old victims on Facebook.

"They started messaging each other and became friends," says Detective Richard Leung, who led the investigation. "Then it got more serious. He invited the young girl to come hang out and eventually to come live with him."

Detective Leung discovered that Rankin was housing four female victims in his two-bedroom apartment, near Maryland Parkway and Flamingo Road.

Three of those victims were under the age of 18.

"He basically told the girls that they had to go out and sell themselves, in order to pay the rent," Detective Leung says. "He would tell them they would be able to get a house and cars and that it would be better for all of them."

Investigators say Rankin would send the girls to the Strip in a taxi to have sex with strangers for cash.

"They would go into the casinos to try and find a date and they'd go back to the client's hotel room," Detective Leung says.

According to detectives, Rankin would threaten and abuse the girls when they returned to his apartment.

"He instilled fear to make sure that they each collected a lot of money and to guarantee they didn't keep any of the cash for themselves," Detective Leung says. "He actually had a stun gun that he would use on the girls, if they were caught lying."

In addition to the stun gun, police say Rankin also had a firearm. He was sentenced to 12 to 60 months in prison and must register as a sex offender.