Prostitution targeted


DOWNTOWN — Authorities are planning a targeted crackdown on a surge of prostitution-related crimes at local hotels.

With prostitution linked to assaults, robbery and narcotics sales, the Police Department plans to focus on not only those engaged in prostitution, but also those who assist, encourage or profit from it, Lt. Armen Dermenjian said.

Beefed-up enforcement efforts come as patrol officers in the last month investigated a string of classified advertisements and online solicitations leading to the arrest and citation of a handful of suspected prostitutes and their pimps, mostly from out of town.

Other run-ins with reputed prostitutes and pimps have come during patrols of local hotels for gang activity and narcotics, said Burbank Police Sgt. Robert Quesada.

The women tend to advertise on Craigslist or similar sites, posting that they are available in a general area, such as Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena, authorities said. They then finalize the meeting location, which have included the Ramada Burbank Airport Hotel, Extended StayAmerica and Quality Inn.

Officers have been able to link the pimps with prostitutes through text messages, computers, hotel room charges and other evidence.

The latest run-in happened about 4:40 p.m. Feb 23 when police officers smelled marijuana wafting from a room at the Ramada Burbank Airport Hotel at 2900 N. San Fernando Blvd., Quesada said.

The three women inside — age 19, 20 and 22 — allegedly advertised as “sexy princess[es] willing and available any time,” authorities said. The women, two from Missouri, the other from San Diego, were booked on misdemeanor prostitution-related charges and released later that day, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s records.

Officers on Feb. 16 arrested a 19-year-old Poway woman and 26-year-old San Diego man a week earlier at the same hotel for prostitution-related charges, according to police records.

Gladis Alvarez, or “Sasha,” and Wesley Johnson were booked on charges of misdemeanor prostitution and felony pimping, respectively. The message local authorities intend to send is simple, Dermenjian said: “The Burbank Police Department will not allow prostitutes and their customers to believe that they can use Burbank as their meeting place.”

Patrols also generated prostitution arrests at the Extended StayAmerica Los Angeles-Burbank Airport at 2200 Empire Ave., according to police records.

Officers arrested two Oakland men, age 21 and 23, for allegedly pimping a minor under the age of 16 at the hotel, Quesada said.

“We want these people to know that if they’re going to engage in this kind of conduct that the police and citizens won’t put up with it, and we’ll be out there targeting it,” Quesada said. “We don’t want to let them get comfortable.”

Increased patrols and monitoring of online classified sites also helped officers snag a handful of suspects at the Quality Inn at 2255 N. Buena Vista St.