SAVANNAH, GA (August 11, 2012) Several divisions of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department extended their  effort to address a large scale prostitution operation that solicits business over the Internet today with an undercover operation that netted seven arrests.

 Today’s action brought to 37 the number arrested so far this year in the intermittent effort by the Neighborhood Task Force (NTF) of SCMPD’s Tactical Reaction and Prevention (TRAP) unit, officers from the Southside and West Chatham precincts and investigators from the Savannah Area Intelligence Center (SARIC). More arrests are expected.

 Cases were made today against five prostitutes and two customers during the operation near the GA 204 exit of I-95 and hotels near the Oglethorpe Mall area . Numerous firearms and various narcotics also have been found on the prostitutes and their “boyfriends”, as well as illegal narcotics.

 Police Chief Willie Lovett assigned the collaborative effort in reaction to an influx of traveling prostitutes who advertise on web sites and meet customers in hotels and motels along Interstate 95 from Florida to South Carolina.

 At least one prostitute this year has been charged with engaging in sexual activity while knowingly being infected with AIDS. Several of those arrested before today had not revealed on their web site ads that they actually were males dressed as females.

 Metro police have tracked 10 percent of the street robberies reported jurisdiction-wide and half of all robberies in the Southside Precinct to hold-ups of prostitutes in area hotels and motels. This week, two women were charged after police were called to investigate cases where they reported robberies by the men they had serviced.

 The goal, said Lovett, is to curtail the illegal activities and force them out of the area. None of the prostitutes previously arrested have run advertisements here on the web sites being monitored since their arrest but advertisements by others have increased.

 Southside Precinct officers attempted to work through the managers of area hotels using an informational meeting that only two of 29 invited attended. Efforts are underway to reschedule the meeting and invite more hotel managers, explaining among other things, the resources Metro provides, actions they can take to rid their businesses of the prostitutes and legal liabilities they could incur if customers at their businesses are injured.

That meeting will be scheduled in early September.

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