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Dozens arrested in online prostitution sting

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

The Albany Dougherty Drug Unit officials say they were surprised with their success in recent prostitution stings.

Agents say they made dozens of arrests this year after setting up fake accounts posing as prostitutes.

This year Albany Dougherty Drug Unit agents have been open about running prostitution stings on the streets, but they heard more about prostitutes using social media.  So Investigators decided to check, and set up a website to see if people seeking prostitutes around Albany were really using the Internet.

A.D.D.U. Commander Major Bill Berry said they set it up in one evening, and by the very next morning had 174 contacts.

The unit worked with the District Attorney to make sure the sting would stand up in court, and wasn't entrapment. Then they created websites offering a "good time" in Albany, and posted when and where customers could come for sex.

"It was extremely simple," said Berry. "[We] just put a website out and they responded seeking ladies of the night, seeking sex."

In three operations, agents arrested 37 men and women.  Investigators say a wide gamut of the community was charged.

"Most [of them were] male; most of them were employed," said Berry. "Some of them had decent jobs. Some of them had jobs in town and outside of Albany."

Berry said they could have arrested more, but the scope of the operation only allowed them to handle a limited number of people. Investigators say the prostitution trade, that is thousands of years old, still carries on nightly in South Georgia. He also says more use social media and the Internet rather than street corners to conduct business.
 
Officials say prostitution is not a victimless crime, because of the spread of disease, violence, and the drug trade. Major Berry said they plan to continue these Internet stings in 2014.

Berry said the three operations targeted three parts of Albany- the east, north, and the west. All three Internet operations resulted in arrests.

A number of prostitutes seeking work answered the Internet stings, and were charged with prostitution.  The men and women seeking sex were charged with pandering.

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