Wednesday, June 27, 2007

12 arrested in Anniston prostitution investigation


Twelve people were arrested Friday in Anniston and charged with soliciting a prostitute.

The arrests took place at the corner of 29th Street and Noble Street between 5 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

“Prostitution as a whole over the last six months or so has increased,” said Randall Sanders, supervisor of the Calhoun/Cleburne County Drug and Violent Crime Task Force.

Sanders said the areas most common for prostitution are located in the northwest end of Anniston.

In addition to the 12 arrested for solicitation of prostitution, two additional unrelated arrests were made at the same corner, one for drug possession and paraphernalia and one for public intoxication, resisting arrest and attempted assault in the second degree.

According to Sanders, one woman was providing services and 11 men were seeking services.

“They all just came up to the corner at different times during the evening,” Sanders said.

Each person arrested for prostitution had bond set at $500 and was given a court date of July 28.

The operation was a joint effort involving the Calhoun/Cleburne County Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, the Alabama Beverage Control Board and the Anniston Police Department.

Before this operation, Sanders said the last prostitution arrest happened less than a week ago. Another arrest occurred the morning of June 25.

“It’s something that we’re definitely watching and keeping an eye on because of the high percentage of drug use and disease transmission going on with it,” Sanders said.

Lt. Mike Reese with the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board said he has lived in Anniston his entire life and never seen prostitution levels this high.

“It’s a tremendous problem, and I worry about the health of the prostitutes and the people they are picking up,” Reese said.

While no single tip was given about the operation June 22, Reese said citizen complaints and an increased presence of apparent prostitutes on Noble Street led to the investigation.

“We’ve been targeting the girls themselves lately and it’s like supply and demand,” Reese said. “You can curb one side of it, but you have to target both sides.”

According to Alabama State Code, prostitution is defined as “any natural or unnatural sexual act, deviate sexual intercourse or sexual contact for monetary consideration or other thing of value.”

Each violation of this code is a Class A misdemeanor.

Sanders said it can be difficult to fight prostitution because it is not an organized crime, and it lacks an infrastructure.