“Prostitution sting that netted 10 had different goal”


Prostitution sting that netted 10 had different goal
POLICE: They say they were looking for people involved with child

November 3rd, 2009 05:35 PM

Last Modified: November 3rd, 2009 10:36 PMWASILLA — Authorities say a
recent Internet prostitution sting called the biggest to date in the Mat-Su
revealed a previously hidden world of men seeking cyber sex.
To some the sting also represented an invasion of privacy and waste of
federal dollars meant to catch child sex traffickers. The late October bust
resulted in the arrests of 10 men, plus the seizure of more than $2,100 in
cash and 10 cell phones, police say. The sting, conducted by Palmer and
Wasilla police with help from the FBI and Anchorage’s vice squad, was
associated with a larger federal strategy called Operation Cross Country
that targets child prostitutes and people who sell children into slavery.
The Mat-Su operation turned up neither, said Palmer police Detective Sgt.
Kelly Turney. Instead, Turney said, the arrests represented the beginning of
“us being able to work the issue”– arresting low-level johns to find pimps
for adult prostitutes who may also be trafficking young girls. Police knew
prostitution happened here, but they didn’t know to what extent. The sting
was one way to figure that out. Police placed ads on Craigslist and other
places. Turney wouldn’t describe the ad, but did say it made no reference to
child prostitution.
The phone rang off the hook, police said. The 10 men arrested met an
undercover female officer at a motel and paid a pre-arranged sum.The men
range in age from 18 to 58; most live in Palmer and Wasilla, though three
drove up from Anchorage or Eagle River. Their cases are still pending,
Turney said. All were arrested for solicitation of prostitution, a
misdemeanor, received court summons and were released. In Alaska, like
cities around the country, online prostitution is becoming more prevalent
than street walking. Authorities say Internet hookers in Anchorage can make
$1,000 a day, according to prior reports. Sometimes they keep all their
earnings. Sometimes they send part to pimps in Alaska or the Lower 48.They
also say the Internet can provide a level of anonymity that makes it more
difficult to find young girls or evidence of trafficking. It’s hard to say
exactly how many women “are working” the Valley, Turney said.They operate
from various places: cars, motels, homes. This week, a scan of the
Anchorage/Mat-Su adult services category on Craigslist revealed a couple of
Valley-specific listings, both with Wasilla locations. A caller to “April in
Wasilla” — a well-endowed brunette, judging by a picture posted with the ad
— reached a woman who said she was a friend of April’s.”She forwards her
phone to me. … I don’t know what her business is. Thank you,” she said,
before hanging up. But a woman behind another ad, offering “a relaxing
revitalizing appointment with a fun and friendly tall Blondie,” was more
than happy to talk.”Blondie” — who described herself as over 21 and from
the Wasilla area — said she provides “complete energy manipulation” that
includes reiki massage techniques, guided meditation and “ancient hot stone
body work.”There’s some nudity involved, she said, but you “can’t do
complete body work” without it. She sees clients wherever she can take her
massage table. The woman called the police sting a waste of federal funding
earmarked to fight the legitimate crimes of young prostitution and sex
slavery. She suggested police crack down on massage parlors to find
traffickers, rather than placing an ad targeting johns who think they’re
meeting up with an adult.”If you advertise in the paper for whatever service
and you’ve got grownups coming to see you, you think they’ve got child
abductees in their car?” she said. “Ask the taxpayers — was it worth
it?”News of the bust elicited a lot of negative reaction, police said.
Several hundred comments were posted on newspaper Web sites last week after
stories about the sting appeared.
Many criticized the effort as a waste of money and time that could have been
spent arresting people involved in more serious crimes.”It’s a little
disheartening when you actually try to do something good and the majority of
people think you’re wasting money, wasting time, why aren’t you out doing
something bigger?” said Palmer police Commander Tom Remaley.”It’s almost
like you can’t win.”


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