Johnson Co. Prostitution Ring Nets 40 Arrests

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JOHNSON CO., Kan. - The metro's intricate highway system and bounty of motels make the perfect equation for a booming tourism industry.  But area law enforcement says they also make it easier for a darker industry to thrive.

"With prostitution comes violent crime, drugs, guns, all the other crimes go right along hand-in-hand with prostitution.  So it's not a victimless crime," said
Deputy Tom Erickson with the Johnson County Sheriff's Office.  "In fact, there are a lot of victims when it comes to prostitution."

That was the case in two, multi-day prostitution stings.  In Johnson County, sheriffs arrested 29 people with charges ranging from prostitution, solicitation, warrants and drug possession.  Meanwhile in Overland Park, police arrested 11 prostitutes, with one of them being a minor.

"They definitely use the media out there to arrange - you don't see the street walkers out there," said Gary Mason, an officer with the Overland Park Police Dept.  "You get more of the call girl type where they either rent a room and people come in to see them or they travel to different locations - room to room - meeting up with their customers that way."

Both agencies say that many of the women they arrest are actually victims, who are stuck in a violent cycle of abuse, addiction and fear, all brought on by the men who pimp them out.  They say that makes prostitution nearly impossible to stop.

"What we can do is deter it.  We can make it uncomfortable to be here," said Erickson.  "We can make it so they don't want to do their business here and do our best to at least make this part of the world, in Johnson County, as safe as possible."

Johnson County Sheriffs and Overland Park Police plan more prostitution stings in the near future.

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