Monday, September 10, 2007

NY: Prostitutes Turn to Craigslist, Law Takes Notice


A detective in Nassau County monitors Craigslist’s “Erotic Services” category.
Kirk Condyles for The New York Times

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. — The eight women visited Long Island this summer along with vacationing families and other business travelers, staying in hotels and motels in commercial strips in middle-class suburbs like East Garden City, Hicksville and Woodbury. Their ages ranged from 20 to 32.

Three had come all the way from the San Francisco Bay area, one from Miami. Two lived less than 60 miles away, in Newark and Elizabeth, N.J. and two even closer, in Brooklyn.

All eight were arrested on prostitution charges here, snared in a new sting operation by the Nassau County police that focuses on Craigslist.org, the ubiquitous Web site best known for its employment and for-sale advertisements but which law enforcement officials say is increasingly also used to trade sex for money.

Nassau County has made more than 70 arrests since it began focusing on Craigslist last year, one of numerous crackdowns by vice squads from Hawaii to New Hampshire that have lately been monitoring the Web site closely, sometimes placing decoy ads to catch would-be customers.

“Craigslist has become the high-tech 42nd Street, where much of the solicitation takes place now,” said Richard McGuire, Nassau’s assistant chief of detectives. “Technology has worked its way into every profession, including the oldest.”

Augmenting traditional surveillance of street walkers, massage parlors, brothels and escort services, investigators are now hunching over computer screens to scroll through provocative cyber-ads in search of solicitors...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT NYTimes.com

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