Undercover officers arrest prostitutes - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Undercover officers arrest prostitutes in sting

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An undercover operation by several divisions of Savannah-Chatham Metro Police resulted in seven arrests Friday night in a crackdown of a large scale prostitution ring that lures clients online.

So far this year, 37 people have been arrested by the Neighborhood Task Force (NTF) of SCMPD's Tactical Reaction and Prevention unit, officers from the Southside and West Chatham precincts and investigators from the Savannah Area Intelligence Center. More arrests are expected.

Cases were made today against five prostitutes and two customers during the operation near the GA 204 exit of I-95 and hotels near the Oglethorpe Mall area. Numerous firearms and various narcotics also have been found on the prostitutes and their "boyfriends".

Police Chief Willie Lovett assigned the collaborative effort in reaction to an influx of traveling prostitutes who advertise on web sites and meet customers in hotels and motels along Interstate 95 from Florida to South Carolina.

At least one prostitute this year has been charged with engaging in sexual activity while knowingly being infected with AIDS. Several of those arrested before Friday had not revealed on their online ads that they actually were males dressed as females.

Police have tracked 10 percent of the street robberies reported jurisdiction-wide and half of all robberies in the Southside Precinct to holdups of prostitutes in area hotels and motels.

This week, two women were charged after calling police to report that they had been robbed by male customers.

Lovett said the goal is to curtail their illegal activities and force them out of the area - by monitoring the websites where prostitutes advertise. The prostitutes who were arrested are not using the sites as much, but there are more ads from prostitutes who have not yet been arrested.

Southside Precinct officers tried working with hotel managers of area hotels by holding an informational meeting, but only two of the 29 managers attended.

Efforts are under way to reschedule the meeting and invite more hotel managers. The meeting will serve to review the resources that SCMPD provides, actions hotels managers can take to get rid of prostitutes and legal liabilities they can incur if customers at their business are injured, according to police. 

That meeting will be scheduled in early September.

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