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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on January 9th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 44 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 44

Police make 21 arrests in prostitution sting

BY AMY ASMAN

Two recent sting operations conducted by the Santa Maria Police Department resulted in the arrest of 21 “johns” for soliciting women for sexual services, the department announced in a press release on Jan. 7.

Backed up by a team of detectives and other law enforcement officials, two female undercover officers posed as street-level prostitutes at locations along Broadway and East Main streets in Santa Maria. During the first operation in November, police arrested 10 men for solicitation of prostitution. Officials said a press release was not issued to “preserve the confidentiality of the on-going investigation.”

A second sting conducted in January with the state Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) resulted in 11 arrests.

SMPD spokesman Sgt. Terry Flaa said the department partnered with ABC for the operation because much of the solicitations occurred “near establishments that serve alcohol.”

He said the names of the suspects and the exact locations of the stings are being withheld to preserve the success of future operations.

Police started investigating sexual solicitation in Santa Maria after local residents voiced their concerns at a town hall meeting in October.

“[They said] mothers and daughters simply walking to the market were being solicited about sexual services,” Flaa said.

He said the department “decided to target the johns first to send a message” that prostitution and soliciting for sexual services is illegal.

According to the department, the stings are the first in a series of investigative efforts meant to address “the prostitution issue in our community.”

“The three major components of prostitution operations are those who solicit services—the johns; the prostitutes themselves; and the people who govern and control the prostitutes, more commonly known as pimps,” Flaa said.

He said the department is looking into ways to go after all three groups.