This weekend, in a 12-hour assault on prostitution, D.C. police arrested 74 people.
Some of the arrests were made in downtown hotels, some on District streets. According to Metropolitan Police Department Inspector Brian Bray, the operation, called “Off the Streets,” was executed by vice officers from the Third District.
54 alleged johns were arrested, as well as 14 alleged prostitutes. Bray says the johns were picked up by undercover cops playing street prostitutes, and the prostitutes by undercovers perusing classified ads. The officers working the ads arranged hotel meetings with their suspects. Classifieds have emerged as favorite targets for law enforcement, especially after all the attention the seedier side of Craigslist got for its now-terminated erotic services section. According to Bray, 12 of the advertisements utilized were found on the Village Voice Media-owned listings site Backpage.com.
And it turns out Washington City Paper ads were also involved: Bray says two of the alleged sex-workers arrested had ads there. “They were pretty well hidden,” Bray adds after I fall silent when he tells me this. “It was hard to tell what they were.”
Bray also reports that four unlucky pimps who tried to recruit the undercover officers posing as prostitutes for their businesses were arrested, as well as two men who tried to rob the fake sex workers.