By: Zora Asberry
ODESSA - The Odessa Police Department recently conducted a prostitution sting in Odessa. The investigation started after police received tips from citizens regarding a lot of traffic coming in and out of hotels on Highway 80. But a website ultimately brought the suspects down.
Odessa Police were able to go undercover on websites like www.backpage.com that many prostitutes were using to solicit sex.
Cpl. Steve LeSueur with the Odessa Police Department, said, "The undercover officer posed as someone that was interested in engaging in sexual activity and pretending that he was interested in a prostitute. When the prostitute came, and met him at the location agreed, the other officers came and basically took him into custody from prostitution"
Female officers also went under cover acting as prostitutes using certain websites to solicit sex. By the end of the sting five people were arrested, three of them on both possession and prostitution charges.
"It isn't uncommon for detectives to frequently monitor these types of websites and we are constantly looking at them and we know it's an issue not just here, but all over the state as well as the country," said LeSueur.
Not only are the prostitutes held accountable, so are the Johns.
"They're both guilty and if they are both caught and it is determined that were both participating in prostitution then they'll both be charged," said LeSueur.
Prostitution is a Class B misdemeanor and bond is usually no more than $500. If it is the 2nd or 3rd offense, charges may be raised to a Class A misdemeanor, and if caught more than three times they could be facing a felony.
Odessa Police tell us that these operations are delicate and can take some time.
"They can last several days, several weeks, several months, but when we actually participate in the sting operation, they're usually fairly quickly," said LeSueur.