Internet-Based Prostitution Sting Gives Glimpse At Fighting Crime In 21st Century

| by Jonathan Wolfe

Parkersburg, Ohio police just concluded a sting that saw six women and two men arrested on prostitution charges. The sting, Parkersburg Police Chief Joseph Martin said, is a perfect example of how the internet has changed the way prostitution is both carried out and stopped.

“It’s not an open-air prostitution issue,” Martin told the Charleston Daily Mail. “This is more of a behind-the-scenes, in the shadows kind of illicit activity that we weren’t necessarily aware of. We use [the internet] as a tool to try to uncover other crimes and other criminal activity that’s going on in or around Parkersburg.”

Martin says his department has trained a team of officers specifically on how to spot advertisements for illegal sexual activities on the internet. The team busted this particular ring by monitoring sights like Craigslist and Backpage. Often times, advertisements in the adult sections for “massages” and “escort services” turn out to be nothing more than veiled prostitution offers.

“We educated ourselves basically trying to figure out how they’re doing it and why they’re doing it,” he said. “Why they’re doing it is money, obviously, but how they’re doing it, it’s a totally different set of rules than what we’re used to playing with.

“Technology is only going to get better and we’re going to take every opportunity we can to use it to our advantage to stay ahead of the game.”

Six women were arrested for prostitution in the sting, and two men were arrested for aiding prostitution.

Sources: The Charleston Daily Mail / Photo Credit: Parkersburg Police Department