Richmond Police are conducting undercover sting operations targeting prostitutes on the city’s South side.
This comes after 8News first exposed the problem two weeks ago. Neighbors are fed up that sex is being sold on their street corners.
8News Senior Reporter Nate Eaton was given exclusive access to a sting operation as police arrested eight women in a matter of just a few hours.
One woman arrested was a 59-year-old grandmother. Another was a mother who was out trying to earn money for her children. Another accused prostitute says her husband sent her out to get money for drugs.
For decades, Jefferson Davis Highway has been known for prostitution.
But according to neighbors and police, the problem has escalated.
“We've noticed an increase in the ladies that are walking through the area,” said Richmond Police Sgt. Keshawn Manns. “You shouldn't have to come outside your home and witness somebody making these types of transactions.”
These police operations are very detailed.
Inside one car is a wired undercover officer posing as a man looking for sex.
Behind him are other undercover cars. Officers inside keep an eye out and listen for when the woman offers favors for cash.
It doesn't take long to get an arrest in, of all places, a cemetery where prostitutes say they often conduct business.
The woman busted here says she's trying to get money for her kids at home.
It's her first arrest and police hope they've made a difference.
“If that's your first charge, my goal is to see if I can make a difference so it can be your first and your last charge,” said Manns.
A few minutes later, across town, the most shocking arrest of the night.
A prostitute who's 59 years old who tells 8News Senior Reporter Nate Eaton she's been working the streets since she was 14. She's out here to get money to pay the bills.
As police run a background check, they realize this woman was arrested a year ago for prostitution.
“Last year you got caught. What brought you back out here tonight?” asked Eaton.
“I had my water bill and my light bill to pay,” said the woman. “That's all and I'm not lying to y'all.”
“Do i believe it's the last time?” questioned Sgt. Manns. “I would like to think so but she's been doing this for a long, long time.”
Prostitution is a misdemeanor crime so perpetrators are given a citation and released...
There are some resources in Richmond to help women and men escape the practice but many can’t, or don’t, seek it out.
Many end up right back on the streets – like a 26-year-old lady who told officers her husband sent her out for drug money.
Ten minutes after she was released, we spotted her back out on Jeff Davis.
“I've seen some of the same prostitutes out here over and over and over again,” said Manns.
Police say that means they'll be out over and over again working to get these women off the streets.
“I always like to tell them there's another way,” said Manns.
Help is available for men and women involved in prostitution. For more information, contact the Richmond Justice Initiative here.
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