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In South End operation, police target 'johns' who solicit sex on-line

Posted by Roy Greene  March 5, 2012 06:33 PM

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South End police officers are taking their fight against prostitution to the web.

Authorities said they arrests three suspected "johns" in the Park Square area in February as part of an undercover prostitution sting operation targeting people who solicit sex on-line.

Police Sergeant Thomas Lema, District A-1 community service officer, said detectives worked with officers posing as young women.

“We try and be more proactive with Craigslist,” Lema said. “We have seen less prostitutes on the street and more on websites.”

The arrests were made on Feb. 1 and 2, Lema said, by undercover officers.

“In this case, this is where we are going after the johns, not the prostitutes,” he said. “After the men paid for sexual favors they were taken into custody.”

Bay Village Neighborhood Association President Ken Ham has lived in the neighborhood for three and a half years.

“When we moved in, prostitution was really bad, and now I don’t hardly ever see it,” Ham said. When he moved to the neighborhood, Ham said, he could see prostitutes soliciting customers when he looked out his window at night. “You hardly see anything anymore, which is good,” he said.

“I’m happy that they do stuff like that,” said Ham of District A-1’s detectives and officers. “It’s the first time that I can remember that they’ve done a sting operation. ... I think that is how a lot of communities are trying to deal with it now because in the past they didn’t do anything with the johns but targeted the prostitutes.”

The operation involved the police Family Justice Unit, the Human Trafficking Task Force, and the Youth Violence Strike Force, according to Lema.

Lema advises residents to keep an eye out for prostitutes working the streets of the neighborhood

“We meet with residents to keep them informed of what we are doing,” Lema said. “If they see or hear anything suspicious, such as the exchanging of money through cars windows, vehicles slowly surfing the neighborhood, they should not hesitate to call 911. We will investigate the cars and women that may be walking the area.”

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and Emerson College.

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