A joint sting operation conducted by the El Segundo Police Department and the FBI resulted in the arrests of eight prostitutes and a pimp last weekend at an undisclosed El Segundo hotel.
The sting targeted prostitution websites that police say are increasingly proliferating as a means for marketing illicit sexual services. Prostitutes are engaged by customers online and meet-ups are often scheduled for hotels. In this sting, detectives posed as customers.
“Prostitution is a lot more common than people think, not just specifically to our city,”
said ESPD Lt. Jaime Bermudez. “I just think we have a couple things going for us that kind of attract that kind of thing. We have a lot of hotels — that is part of the problem.”
The FBI has a specific task force aimed at finding underaged prostitutes, Bermudez said, although in this case all the women arrested were confirmed to be in their 20s. Another aspect of prostitution that law enforcement has focused on in recent years is human trafficking — many women are lured from other countries as a means of paying a family debt or are otherwise compromised by socioeconomic circumstances.
“That is a huge problem,” Bermudez said. “Some people say it is a victimless crime. It really isn’t. I’ve done these stings a couple of times, and the women…it’s not victimless. It’s a miserable thing that they do.”
As part of the sting operations, police bring social services assistance to the women — and, in the case of underaged prostitutes, child services assistance.
“We try to get them out of ‘the life’, and also do that for the adults,” Bermudez said. “We try to provide help. It isn’t just a sting operation to arrest them — part of the task force’s objective is to get them out of that lifestyle.”