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Undercover Prostitution Sting Arrests 79, Mostly Hookers and Johns

Atlanta Police Vice Unit targets Midtown with six-day undercover operation.

"As long as it's good, we can work something out. You cool coming to my place?"

"Sure."

It's a late-night conversation between people exchanging money for sex. 

Prostitution has plagued the Midtown community for 30 years or more, according to resident Peggy Denby, president of the Midtown Ponce Security Alliance.

But the past two weekends, Atlanta police have cracked down on the illegal activity.

Members of the Atlanta Police Vice Unit, as well as and Zone 5 officers, arrested 79 people in Midtown during a six-day undercover detail called Operation Summer Heat. 

The operation arrested 50 male prostitutes, 11 female prostitutes and 8 johns. Five people were arrested for marijuana sales and five for cocaine sales.

Officers posed as johns, as well as prostitutes, in the area bounded by 10th Street, North Avenue, Boulevard and Spring Street.

"Our ultimate goal really is to better the community," said Lt. Scott Kreher, commander of the Atlanta Police Vice Unit. The unit regularly conducts stings around the city, but decided to target Midtown after seeing a 22 percent increase in prostitution cases from last year. 

"Each spring when it turns into summer, we see it pick up," Kreher said. "These aren't just people prostituting. They are hard-core criminals."

Kreher said prostitutes often are involved in drug activity and crimes including aggravated assault. Thursday night, one man arrested for prostitution got so angry he kicked out an interior door of the prisoner transport vehicle.

"They just bring the whole underworld with them," Denby said. She said the Midtown Ponce Security Alliance started its private patrols in 2003 to combat prostitution in the neighborhood.

After the first weekend of the operation, when 39 people were arrested, Kreher said Zone 5 -- which covers Midtown, downtown, Old Fourth Ward and Castleberry Hill -- saw a decrease in crimes such as car break-ins. 

"We saw a huge difference, a drop in crime," Kreher said. 

The Hot Spots

In Midtown, there are several places where prostitutes tend to linger. 

Ponce de Leon Avenue has a long history of prostitution.

Female police officers dressed as prostitutes walked Ponce Friday night to target the corridor. The women hung around places such as the , as well as along the dead-end street behind the .

Many of the women prostitutes along Ponce are repeat offenders and heavy drug users, police said. "The ones here on Ponce are more messy," said one officer. Zone 5 officers said they know many by name -- "Fritz," "Dunwoody," and "Ms. Jackie" are a few of the nicknames.

Another hotspot for prostitution is around Piedmont Avenue and 3rd, 4th and Juniper streets. Denby said most of the prostitutes there are transgender people. She lived at 6th and Juniper streets and has dozens of photos of scantily-clad transgender people soliciting for sex in the area.

The first arrest Thursday night was a man walking near Piedmont Avenue and 4th Street. He offered himself for $20 to the undercover officer just after 10 p.m.

The MARTA station along 10th Street and Peachtree Place attracts another demographic of prostitutes -- young, gay men. The men often walk up and down Cypress Street looking for customers. Police arrested a man in his 20s or 30s at the MARTA station Thursday night. 

Kreher said the majority of prostitutes in Midtown are men. 

The johns who pick up the prostitutes are usually men, Kreher said, who live outside Atlanta or are from out of town. "Very rarely do we catch somebody from the neighborhood," he said. 

The going rate for prositutes in Midtown?

Between $20 and $40 for a sex act, police said.

But Kreher said he's seen people accept as little as a bag of chips as payment. 

After the Arrest

People arrested for solicitation serve 10 to 15 days in jail for a first offense, Kreher said. A second offense earns 30 days in jail. For a third offense, it's 60 days, and for four, it's 180 days.

But Denby said jail time does little to deter prostitutes. Many consider it part of the profession. 

Kreher said he is doubtful that prostitution will ever cease in Midtown. 

"It's history, and old habits die hard," he said. "I don't think we will ever be able to get a handle on it."

But undercover stings do help "put the message on the streets that we are out here."

Denby said her hope is that the johns get scared away and the demand for prostitutes lessens.

"It's just a nasty situation," she said. "It's not something anyone should have in their neighborhood."

Marc Acampora May 22, 2011 at 01:31 PM
Jerome's got it right. As long as we prudishly legislate sexual activity we will continue to squander valuable limited police resources on this crap. I do not want prostitutes walking the streets of Midtown. But, like drug use, prostitution, if done legally, is a victimless activity. It is the criminalization that creates the culture of streetwalkers and johns, like drug dealers. Legalize it and it can occur in brothels, have health inspections, and pay taxes. The women would be safer and get health insurance, and most of the undesirable street activity would stop.
Amy June 17, 2011 at 03:58 PM
I'm not sure how 8 johns arrested versus 61 prostitutes arrested is a great way to scare the johns away and lessen the demand for prostitutes. If you want to scare the johns off it seems to me you'd want to be arresting and exposing them--they are the ones who have more to lose by being arrested and apparently prostitutes view being arrested as part of the job. If most of the prostitutes in the area are men soliciting men, why is the APD trying to arrest johns with female undercover officers? It seems like a waste of resources.
Amy June 17, 2011 at 04:15 PM
I'm not sure how 8 johns arrested versus 61 prostitutes arrested is a great way to scare the johns away and lessen the demand for prostitutes. If you want to scare the johns off it seems to me you'd want to be arresting and exposing them--they are the ones who have more to lose by being arrested, and according to the police, the prostitutes view being arrested as part of the job. If most of the prostitutes in the area are men soliciting men, why is the APD trying to arrest johns with female undercover officers? Do the male undercover officers only feel comfortable playing the role of those on the top of the power dynamic? It seems like a waste of resources to exclusively arrest the supply side of the equation when it obviously isn't working. Perhaps it is easier to arrest and prosecute again and again those who have very little to defend themselves in the form of money or power (would you do your job for a bag of chips in payment?), but it doesn't seem to be helping Midtown *or* the prostitutes in the long run.
Carlius October 08, 2011 at 11:37 PM
The hookers are victims? Wtf.....20% are but the other 80% are in it for quick easy cash, where they don't have to work. The ones who stop prostituting go into the drug trade. Most say school is too long and nobody wants to start at the bottom of the work force. Has anybody ever sat and thought about what is going through the Johns head, where he /she is forced to pickup a hooker? All you get is four months for a 4th offense? Who's afraid of that really? To say that police need to go after john instead of hookers, is like saying drug dealers need to be left alone and in return go after the ones buying it. Prostitution is a chain reaction Nobody touched on the fact that the government itself is making it hard on society, women are forced to earn additional income by doing this to begin with. The fact is that most don't want to be helped, if you don't believe me. Go try and help your neighborhood prostitute.
Chris Stockton January 28, 2012 at 11:07 PM
oh i defenently agre with thatg one...
Chris Stockton January 28, 2012 at 11:10 PM
yes i must agree with you... i was one of those trannys..... yes we are the victims....
Chris Stockton January 28, 2012 at 11:11 PM
yea thats very inhumane....why? it not the prostitutes fault...
Ferrister Bueller January 30, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Yes it's the prostitutes fault. If it's not their fault, then tell me, who's is it? People need to take responsibility for their own actions. If you're a drug-addled, criminal or hooker, then take responsibility for it. The decline of Western civilization is too far gone and that's why eugenics should be practiced. :^)
Ferrister Bueller January 30, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Death to trannies! :^)
President Taft January 31, 2012 at 04:51 AM
Legalize it. Spend your time going after truly violent crime, crime with victims, and child prostitution. Any minute spent pursuing a voluntary transaction is wasted not pursuing the dudes who broke into my house, the dudes who keep beating people up and mugging them in midtown, and the other criminals doing violent crime around town. Leave the druggies and the prostitutes alone.
President Taft January 31, 2012 at 04:55 AM
Prostitution has existed for some 10000 years. I don't think that anything that APD is going to do is going to stop it. Focus on crimes that have victims.
Ferrister Bueller January 31, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Look, I'm no christian and far from being a bible-thumper no use in enabling the weak. People with drug problems and people who are slaves to sex are not proper, American citizens and really don't have any moral character. I don't think sex should be profited on. If you want to have sex, JUST DO IT! There's no need to trivialize it and make it about "paying the bills" or "feeding my drug habit".
Ferrister Bueller January 31, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Wars, colonialism, imperialism, tyrannical rule, communism all existed for some 10,000 years but does that make it right? Yes, this country was founded on freedom but remember that our forefathers only wanted "men of moral character" in this country. We're supposed to be evolved, fully-fuctioning human beings. The act of rubbing genitals together for mometary pleasure just to escape reality makes for a bad society. Instead of being "free", it just shows how weak we are.....
Concered March 05, 2012 at 12:51 AM
CONSIDERED I believe that the penalty for being caught for the 1st offense should be harder. Hopefully, that would help.... Secondly, if the community would come together and point the finger on these hotels that are allowing the activity. IT seems to be all about the $$ IF they want to work let them pick up trash along the highways
Concered March 05, 2012 at 12:53 AM
We need more stings especially by the airport/ole national hwy area.
Brian Adams May 15, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Amy, the John's are the actual victims. The prostitutes are willingly preying on men's natural urges to take their money. I don't see how arresting a John will change the situation. That's like saying arrest the crack head, because the crack dealer is the victim. Poor crack dealer. He can't find a job that pays enough for him to live the way that he really wants to, boo hoo. The bad evil crack heads that have a physical addiction are really the ones at blame here. And just like Crack heads, John's have a physical addiction and they have physical reactions to seeing women dressed in short ass skirts walking the street. They get an erection, and their brain goes into sex mode. Mother nature wired them that way. But it's all of a sudden their fault to want to sleep with a woman.
Beth May 22, 2012 at 07:46 PM
@Brian Adams. If a man can't or doesn't wish to control his physiological response to seeing a woman in a short skirt, he shouldn't leave his home. Take responsibility and get some self control!
Geoffrey Kyle Jones July 27, 2012 at 04:40 PM
I do agree that many times the prostitutes might be the victim, but if you choose to go into that business you have to expect bad things to come from it. You get what you pay for. If you want easy money, you sometimes will be some Johns that are kind.
Shakeera Jameson August 27, 2012 at 12:38 AM
Have any of you ever sat down and had a conversation with an escort? i know im late on this but one of my best friends is "a working girl" but at 15 she was threw out on the streets because she finally told her stepdad was having sex with her. she had it in her mind thats how you supposed to treat a man and relized she could get whatever she wanted out of them if she was "good enuff" its really all she knows. now shes not doing it for 20.00 or a bag of chips but dang you dont have to dog out somebody because of the way she chooses to feed her family and keep a roof and clothes on
Shakeera Jameson August 27, 2012 at 12:49 AM
And why does georgia police departments act like they want to clean up the city as they say but the main clientele is police officers congressmen lawyers federal agents and judges my best friends has names and numbers for days but everyone is so against prostitution. wow im gonna ask the american government to get it together stop breaking the laws your trying to lock people up for. it might be a little " trashy " walking the streets but not everyone is fortunate enuff to have guidance. ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE.
Michael Stafford November 01, 2012 at 02:36 AM
I look at the hookers and the people on drugs as victims as much as criminals.I hope they get heip in jail and it don't become a warehouse to make better criminals.
Michael Stafford November 01, 2012 at 02:39 AM
That just to many victims to jugde the men or the women.Pluus god knows how they may come out of jail.
Bernard Bradley November 02, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Why in the hell do the American government loves to economically exploit and oppress its own citizens? 75% of the working class should go on a nationwide protest for 2 weeks and refuse to work. The American working class are treated very badly in America and needs to stand up agianst a evil system by refusing to work for 2 weeks.
Candace graham December 09, 2012 at 08:00 AM
I was arrested for escort without a permit in 2007 when I lived in Georgia I was so upset and received 30 days in Fulton county jail it was the worst I was in booking with men transgendered and was caught up in a sting at the Marriott marquis hotel in midtown after goin to jail here I skipped town fast and ever came back I suggest go somewhere that u don't need a permit to sell ur own shit. Atlanta is wack on the how tip too many girls out there selling their selves for the low I'm from mass and we get 200/250 for an hour and that doesn't guarantee sex ski would get outta georgia with that the only victims in prostitution is the johns family's because he is taking money away from them hoes shouldn't be charged with any crime and shhhmm u get out fast and less time for walking the street than if hey get u off the phones
Rocket March 12, 2013 at 06:42 AM
WELL TO EACH AS OWN SOME HAVE TO LIVE AND LEARN ITS NO DIFFRENCE IN A PERSON SLINGING DRUGS ITS HER BODY AND HER LIFE SHE HAS TO GIVE IN COUNTER FOR THAT ITS BAD WHEN U HAVE THOSE MOFOCUKAS THAT CHOOSE TO ROB NOW THEY DESERVE JAIL WHERE SHES TRYNA FEED HER KIDS I SUPPORT THE NAKED HUSTLE LONG AS SHE PROTECTZ HERSELF
Wendall Ardmore April 13, 2013 at 11:07 PM
Prostitution is the worlds oldest profession. They should legalize prostitution and force these people to get a license to practice their profession while simulatenously practicing safe sex with condoms and female condoms. Can you imagine the tax revenue that could be obtained from these people. This could save the school district. We could hire more teachers and build more schools. Stop putting people in jail wasting $80,000 dollars per year imprisoning people for prostitution. Leave them alone. Also, If a guy wants to pay for sex with someone above the legal age of consent, he should be able to do so without going to jail, and without some asshole telling his wife. Why should the pimps get all of the profit when the state of Georgia could be raking in all of that tax revenue. Lets put the pimps out of business and legalize it.
Wendall Ardmore April 13, 2013 at 11:16 PM
Also mandatory testing for all Johns who are caught with mandatory notification of their spouse if testing shows anything positive....
Mark Murray July 08, 2013 at 05:21 PM
@Amy! Your very intelligent and it's nice to see that others feel the same way! I mean really, the state would make a killing in taxes alone! Legalize and regulate the substances and again, the state would make a killing in taxes and the crime would virtually drop off!
Mark Murray July 08, 2013 at 05:22 PM
Sounds like a win win to me and all away around with minimal resources spent by the city on ridiculous "Stings" Just saying.
Drewboo July 10, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Legalize, Regulate, Tax. Simple Solution. Sorry to the prudes who think "proper American" is a definition that God bestowed upon them to determine for everyone else. Get over yourself.

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