Update: Prostitution sting includes arrests in De Soto

Law enforcement officers have arrested a number of men and women for soliciting and promoting prostitution in De Soto, Shawnee and Merriam. A prostitution sting last week in Johnson County captured nearly 40 alleged johns and prostitutes, including 11 in De Soto, authorities announced Monday.

The undercover operation targeted hotels and apartment complexes in Shawnee, De Soto and Merriam, said Capt. Rob Moser, Shawnee Police Department spokesman. Moser said meetings were pre-arranged but declined to explain exactly where or how, saying that information could harm the effectiveness of future stings.

In all, authorities arrested 29 men for soliciting prostitution and eight women for promoting prostitution over the course of the three-day operation, according to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

“The people that meet us do so knowing they’re there to either meet a prostitute in exchange for sex, or they are prostitutes themselves looking to do work,” said Master Deputy Tom Erickson, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

Nine men and two women were arrested in De Soto and $1,030 was seized by the department.

Moser said that while prostitution isn’t the biggest problem in Shawnee, the city has its fair share.

“No one city is immune to this type of activity,” he said. “The reason we do these stings and operations is that we do try to stay in front of it and combat it as much as possible.”

Police officers from Shawnee, Merriam, Prairie Village and Overland Park worked with Johnson County Sheriff’s deputies to conduct the operation.

The county conducts such stings from time to time. Moser said Shawnee last participated in one roughly five months ago.

Such joint operations are hoped to curtail the illegal activity, Sheriff Frank Denning said in a press release.

“Prostitution is not a crime we think of as occurring in Johnson County,” he said, “but with the number of arrests made, it is very evident that it is here.”

By Sara Shepard

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