More than 100 buyers arrested in prostitution ring
BELLEVUE (KCPQ)— Police have arrested 110 people – including a local radio host – for allegedly soliciting prostitution.
The arrests were made as part of a large-scale undercover operation named “Operation On Demand” that ended Friday, the Bellevue Police Department said.
Officers set up a sting in a condominium just blocks from downtown by posting online ads and exchanging explicit text messages with potential buyers. Police used CityVibe, Backpage, Eros and other websites to talk with potential buyers.
Police explicitly targeted online buyers. Bellevue police and the King County Sheriff’s Office have made a push to arrest sex buyers as part of an ongoing effort to curb the demand for prostitution.
“I think its important to dispel the idea that these women are walking up and down Aurora,” Bellevue Police Captain Marcia Harden said. “That is not really the totality of what prostitution and human trafficking looks like.”
“This is all done on the internet. And it’s done by text messages and apps and things like that.”
The arrests come on the heels of other wide-ranging prostitution arrests in Bellevue.
Local sports radio host Mitch Levy host was among those arrested, records show. He is charged with misdemeanor patronzing a prostitute, the Times reports.
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Levy has a morning drive show on 950 KJR. Robert Dove, the Pacific Northwest Region president of iHeartMedia, released the following statement following Levy’s arrest.
“While we cannot comment on personal matters of an employee for privacy reasons, we are looking into the situation so we can further review and respond as appropriate.”
Most of the suspects paid in cash, but a few tried to pay with a credit card, police said. The families of some of those arrested tried to file missing persons reports when their loved ones didn’t come home, officers said.
Many of the suspects worked in downtown Bellevue and came in on their lunch break, Harden said.
The arrests were made as part of a joint operation involving the Bellevue police, King County sheriff’s deputies, NOCROM 911, the Washington State Fusion Center, and the City of Bellevue Prosecutor’s Office.
This story is breaking and will be updated shortly.