GLENDALE — Two women were arrested early Saturday on suspicion of prostitution by undercover Glendale police officers as public safety officials continued their focus on sexually explicit ads on a popular website.
The two women, who had posted ads — one with nude pictures — on Craigslist, were nabbed by the city’s vice and narcotics squad that had been set up to curb the number of sex workers operating in Glendale, officers said.
Dongyan Zhang, 45, was arrested after midnight Saturday in an apartment on the 100 block of East Randolph Street, while Daysi Vanessa Galeano, 31, was taken into custody at 1 a.m. in a hotel on the 1500 block of East Colorado Street, said Officer John Balian.
Both women advertised on the website with explicit pronouncements of services they offered, Balian said.
Temple City resident Zhang marketed herself as a “beautiful Asian lily” with nude pictures and a price of $200 per hour, while Galeano, a Pasadena resident, said online that she was “ready to play all day, night and morning,” according to police.
Each advertisement specifically mentioned Glendale, which initially attracted investigators, Balian said.
“We try to target information that’s blatantly advertised in the city of Glendale,” he said.
The arrests followed Friday’s sting operation that netted six men charged with soliciting prostitution and a string of arrests by officers after searching for possibly illegal sexual activity on the Internet.
At least 12 alleged prostitutes — women who range in age from 18 to 50 — have been arrested in Glendale in the last three months by undercover officers in Glendale’s vice squad, Balian said.
Undercover officers called Zhang on Friday night after finding her advertisement online. Posing as a possible customer, a male police officer called her, agreed on a price and drove to the apartment. The apartment window featured a string of Christmas lights, the only one in the complex to have such a display, according to the police report.
When the officer entered the room, Zhang was sitting on a bed with just a chair, small stereo and potted plant in the unit, the report said. After paying $200 and both Zhang and the officer undressing, six detectives with the vice and narcotics squad waiting outside arrested her, the report said.
In the refrigerator, officers found one jar of peanut butter and nothing else, Balian said, and the bathroom had only one roll of toilet paper.
“There appeared to be no one living there,” he said. “It appeared that it was only used for prostitution purposes.”
Galeano was arrested in a hotel in central Glendale, the same site where the six men were taken into custody Friday, he said.
In the past three months, the Glendale Police Department has increased its vice operations as the number of ads on Craigslist soared.
Officials at the classified-ads website could not be reached for comment, but the website posts the warning, “Human trafficking and exploitation of minors are not tolerated — any suspected activity will be reported to law enforcement.”
In addition, Craigslist officials have recently instituted several measures to curb the proliferation of illicit ads that have been the focus of police investigations throughout the nation.
On Nov. 6, Craigslist inked a deal with attorneys general in 40 states to crack down on prostitution ads by requiring anyone who posts an “erotic services” listing to provide a working phone number and pay a fee with a valid credit card. As part of the agreement, Craigslist will provide that information to law enforcement if subpoenaed.
But, Balian said, the website might do away with its “erotic services” section after repeated complaints, and inquiries suggest that attempts to curb illegal prostitution may be futile.
But according to a recent police report, officers contacted one alleged prostitute who advertised online that she was conducting business in Glendale. When asked whether she was operating in the city, she reportedly said, “I’m not in Glendale. I have a friend who was arrested there last week.”
“We have seen a decrease in ads on Craigslist,” Balian said. “We are putting a dent in it and at least notifying the public that this stuff is in Glendale.”