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Police Bust Nine in Philly Prostitution Sting

Police Bust Nine in Philly Prostitution Sting

Source: Philadelphia Police Department

August 20, 2010

PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia police on Wednesday busted a prostitution ring that operated in airport hotels.

Police arrested nine people Wednesday by using Craigslist and City Paper ads to lure prostitutes who conduct their business in airport hotels, the Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia Inquirer report. Police didn’t identify the hotel used for the sting when they announced the arrests on Thursday.

Crime has been climbing at airport hotels over the last six to eight months, and Capt. Dan MacDonald III says that it can be linked to prostitution.

“This violence has resulted in numerous robberies, assaults and one homicide all directly related to prostitution going on at Philadelphia airport hotels,” the Daily News quotes him as saying.

Philly isn’t alone in fighting prostitution activity in airport hotels.

Police say prostitution and related criminal activities are also on the rise in hotels near the Bob Hope airport in Burbank, Calif., the Burbank Leader reported two days ago.

Airport-area hotels including the Quality Inn, Extended Stay America Hotel and the Ramada Burbank Airport are often used by prostitutes because they’re close to the airport and have cheaper rates, the story says. Police say people fly into Burbank from Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Area to conduct their business there, often advertising services on Craigslist, and other websites.

In Philadelphia, police officers posed as johns and called the numbers on web ads – including Craigslist – to make appointments in a hotel with alleged prostitutes, the Inquirer explains. Hotels located near Philly’s airport include an Embassy Suites, Fairfield Inn, Hampton Inn, Hilton, Four Points by Sheraton, Courtyard by Marriott, Aloft and Sheraton Suites.

Police arrested six women and three men, most of whom are from Pennsylvania. The men were driving the women and picking them up from their appointments, the Daily News story says. They were charged with prostitution and criminal solicitation.

According to Lt. Charles Green, head of the city’s vice unit, prostitution at airport hotels “appears to be rather extensive” and it can be violent. “If a prostitute sees a client as an ‘easy mark,’ she or her pimp may rob or assault the man once he is in a compromising position,” the paper says.

For example, in December, Kalif Lewis, 26, a john, shot to death alleged pimp Tyre West, 28, at the Residence Inn near the airport, the article says. Lewis had accused a prostitute of stealing $100 on top of the $100 he paid for her services. When West came to help the woman, Lewis fatally shot him, according to the articles. Lewis was later arrested, the Inquirer says.

Police have started a program to educate hotel employees on how to spot prostitutes and drugs. One warning sign" When a guest with local address books a hotel room for seven or eight days, the Inquirer says.

Hotel prostitution became a high-profile last year when a woman who had advertised erotic services in a Craigslist ad was beaten and fatally shot three times at close range at the Boston Marriott Copley Place. Police ultimately arrested Philip Markoff, a medical student who was dubbed the Craigslist Killer, for her killing and other robberies of women in hotels. Markoff committed suicide in jail earlier this week.

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